Florography and the iPhone


Over two weekends this past month, Kate Burns has attended photography workshops in both Sydney and Melbourne that were run by "The School". The School is the brain child of Megan Morton, world renowned Australian stylist based in Sydney. Megan has recognised the desire to learn the art of making beauty, and she has an huge following, which in turn has led to strong attendance at her workshops.

Prior to these latest two weekends, Kate had attended two sessions at The School, one a calligraphy workshop at The School where the tutor was none other than Maybelle Imasa- Stukuls. Maybelle has a over ten years of experience, featured in Martha Stewart and a huge range of magazines and design blogs across the world. The second session was Megan's own styling workshop. It was at this styling class that Kate was singled out by Megan and after a robust chat, the relationship was formed. Turns out, Megan is a keen lover of photgraphy and when Kate showed Megan our website and described what we do at Atkins, things began to mesh.

Megan invited Kate and myself back to join in a photography class being taught by Ashley Woodson-Bailey and introduce our services to the audience.

Ashley Woodson-Bailey lives and works in America, originally a florist, she discovered a passion for a certain style of photography when she was bed-ridden recovering after a significant accident. Whilst gazing at the flowers brought to her bedside, she began photographing them with her iPhone and processing the pictures in one of the many editing applications, Afterlight. Ashley defined a style of photography, Florography, and it has become very popular,

Ashley's work caught the attention of many, including actor Jessica Alba who's bedroom wall is adorned by a giant framed piece of her work. Ashley now has an agent and sells world wide. The work is stunning and quickly caught the attention of Megan Morton, and it wasn't long until Megan had secured a visit to Australia for Ashley to teach at The School.

The opportunity presented to us was to be a part of Ashley's class at The School and we had a week to prepare ourselves. Megan wanted to see our products and some specific items that we have been prototyping. So the week was one of frenzied construction and excitement. We did not know what to expect.

The School is located in an old canning factory in spectacular surrounds, and as you can imagine it was at the heart of cool. We were late and crept into the back of Ashley's first presentation and was immediately struck by the smell of flowers that filled the space. The presentation was held in Megan's studio, a warehouse scale room, a blank page to conjure any set required for photograpahy, and now it was a garden.

Ashley at work

We were introduced to the students and Ashley just before the practical section began. We were made to feel incredibly welcome, and discovered we had strong links with Ashley's US lab and printing with the same materials she uses for her work, Hahnemüle PhotoRag and Epson.

I was mesmerized by the technique. I was actually going through quite the transition as it sunk in what Ashley was teaching. My head always defaults to technical photography, and within the industry we have spent years joking about phones as cameras. Sometimes these jabs have gone beyond a joke, they have been leverage to keep camera sales up. We used terms like 'not proper'. All very condescending.

But what I witnessed and had finally hit home was the importance of the phone camera, and the potential of it. After all, Ashley is showing exquisite meter square and larger art prints from her technique. The work is stunning. Breathtaking. Her process creates a painterly texture where you would expect to see pixels. The technique combined with her ability to really design with the flowers that she loves and beautiful light creates nothing short of beautiful art.

The lesson here really is about how the method of finding the image is not the critical element. The obsession with the 'tools' the bigger lenses, the megapixel or the most hipsterly honest 200 year old camera, none of this matters when the eye and the finished art is right.

We are thrilled to have been 'collected' as one of Megan's suppliers, we have learned everything from our customers, and this is one special customer.