Fading beauty photography

The Only Constant in Life Is Change.- Heraclitus

Fading Beauty

The other day, after noticing how the flower above had turned into such a wild old lady with the “hair” all messed up, I could not resist making a portrait of it.

Aging is a common experience to all of us, and wilting flowers have the power to remind us of it. One day there is a beautiful flower opening up, a few days later it is completely transformed. The same phenomenon happens in front of the mirror, to our pets, friends and family members.

Since aging is inevitable, it is only natural that we seek to find and to portray beauty in it. Perhaps for this reason, many photographers are attracted to “decaying beauty” photography at one time or another in their careers. And many choose to portray flowers because flowers are relatively easy to work with.

Artists trying to portray dissolution and decay may quickly find out that, in general, people from the public are not very enthusiastic about photos that remind them of the realities of life. I recall that, back when I was into photographing fading beauties (a few photos from that period can be seen in my still life Instagram portfolio), I received a number of condescending comments from friends and family. People questioned my mental health, told me that my photography was too morbid and depressive, and some asked me if I needed help. Initially, I did not mind the comments, but as time went on, I started feeling inadequate. Eventually, I stopped taking those kinds of pictures altogether, but today, I had a relapse.

Location: home studio;

Equipment: Nikon Z50, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F/1.8G,  black background, tipod, remote trigger;

Settings: f/16, 3s, ISO 250;

Tips: this was a long exposure without a flash. The original color of the flower is orange reddish, and I did not use a color filter to obtain the black and white, as I did on a previous post. The conversion to monochrome was processed in Photoshop. One thing I failed to understand in the past is that those types of photos will look better in print with the lens closed down: more depth of field helps to highlight the texture, curves and details of these fading beauties. You will not notice any problems with shallow D.O.F. in the Instagram-size files, but large prints tend to reveal what is missing.

Published by Alessandra Chaves

I am an entomologist by trade living in California, USA. I grew up in the awesome city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photography is my hobby.

19 thoughts on “Fading beauty photography

  1. Happy “relapse” to you. I agree with you that “many photographers are attracted to ‘decaying beauty’ photography at one time or another in their careers.” During my first few years in photography I was drawn to the Mayan ruins in Central America and then to dilapidated old buildings in rural upstate New York. Now that I’ve concentrated primarily on nature, I include at least some pictures of plant remains along with those of buds and flowers,

    The arc of the flower stem in your picture reminds me, as a math teacher, of curves like the parabola and catenary.

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    1. It would be hard not to be attracted to the Mayan ruins in Central America. One of my need to go places. Since I moved to the USA every of my vacations is visiting family in Brazil. No ancient ruins there. Yes the curve is perfect.

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      1. Thanks for that. The North! Do you know that flights from my home town Rio de Janeiro, to the northern states, are often more expensive than flying to Miami? But if you go from Miami to Manaus (Amazon) the cheapest flights will have a scale south in Rio or São Paulo? I have been to the North only a few times but would love to explore. On a better time obviously, the pandemics hit the northern states really hard.

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      2. I’ve had to deal with incongruous airline prices, too. It’s not been unusual for a flight from New York all the way across the country to Los Angeles to cost less than a flight from New York to Austin, which is in the middle of the country.

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  2. I guess I got a couple of weird looks 🙂 when I photographed my withering tulips and such, but was surprised to read that people were questioning your mental health. I assume or hope that it was out of a compassionate worry for you.

    Do you have this “Instagram portfolio” available somewhere else too? I was trying to look at it but only get to the Instagram login screen, and I don’t have an account there.

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  3. Social pressure is a very powerful thing but power alone does not equate to good. The things that most people broadly agree on are the mundane. You see beyond that. Keep looking. Shine on you crazy diamond.

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    1. Thank you. I know, I don’t usually yield to social pressure very easily but “that” was very strange. Fortunately there are other things to photograph, things that people are more comfortable with, being reminded of.

      Liked by 1 person

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