It wasn’t until I started looking more closely (often through my lens) that I came to appreciate the elements that make these “flowers” truly unique. First of all: This is not just a giant flower that can grow to 15 feet or more. Rather, each petal on the outside of a sunflower is a flower; and what appears to be the inside of a huge blossom is actually made up of thousands of tiny florets that can produce up to 2,000 seeds. The sunflower’s sun-seeking behavior has been compared to solar panel arrays — which follow the sun from east to west. Then, during the night, will re-face to the east to greet the morning sun again. Once mature with a full-size “flower,” it will settle on facing east.
To preserve every detail for my images I placed them near a window with soft, northern light. Working with my Canon 60d and a Tamron 90mm macro lens I was able to further explore the formation of the youthful bud, the veined leaves, and eventually the wilting petals and aging posture. In addition to appreciating the flower’s aesthetics, I understand that the sunflower symbolizes adoration, loyalty, and longevity — and is also associated with the energy, warmth, and happiness. Clearly, the gifting of this happy flower can have many meanings. For me, the meaning deepened with this project. There is something intimate about recording the drama of birth, youth, vigor, decline, and death — even if it is “just” a plant. But it’s more, of course: it’s a analogy for life.
No matter. The sunflower will always bring a smile to my face.
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