A Welcome to Visitors

A warm welcome to readers both new and current.

My name is David Roddis, and I am a Toronto-based fine-art photographer.

As Florian Photo/Art I create extraordinary, large-scale, photo-based floral artwork that aims to astound.

I call this endeavor “The New Flower Photography”, an admittedly grandiose declaration which is a direct response to those who grit their teeth, roll their eyes, smile patronizingly or otherwise via their anatomy make it known that flower photography, to them, will ever be an exclusively amateur pursuit, utterly lacking in gravitas, and yielding nothing more than pretty snapshots destined for Flickr; that is to say, oblivion.

My monomania is also a response to those who do not understand either the concept or the value of pursuing one path with whole heart and single mind.  They urged me to add a few landscapes or show some of your portraiture.

In the spiritual sense, and even from a simple niche-marketing perspective, they were, and are, wrong; for in the spiritual sense, it is a profound life lesson in commitment to take a single concept to its limit; and in the marketing sense, how else would I obtain my goal of being the go-to guy for flower images?

I began in 2011, with the purchase of a Nikon 105mm prime lens for my camera, an idea of “doing things differently”, and not much else to go on in terms of guidance, direction or encouragement.

I did, however, have a “secret mentor” – the NYC-based artist Christopher Beane¹, whose monograph “Flower” changed my perspective and my world.

His rapturous, larger-than-life photographs of orchids, peonies, irises, tulips, ranunculus et al. astonished me with their sheer scale; seduced me with their texture, detail and intriguing abstraction; and sparked my imagination with their quirky-beautiful backgrounds – Murano glass, nail polish (!) – playfulness and frank sexuality.

flower-beane(I must hasten to add:  I say “secret mentor” because Mr. Beane was never actually my real-life, in-the-flesh mentor but only indirectly, by means of his monograph; and because he is, I presume, unaware of my considering him my mentor, or for that matter, of my existence.

 I imagine bumping into him in New York City, at the Union Square market, perhaps; or as he haunts 28th Street, Garbo-esque in dark glasses; I summon up a goofy-cum-psychopathic smile, gush at him about being my secret mentor, and watch, crestfallen, then horrified, as he backs away, slowly, slowly … A brief period in a holding cell followed by brusque repatriation to Canada completes the morbid fantasy.)

Many of the works seen on this blog are for sale.  To purchase both limited-edition and open-edition prints, and for a full portfolio of my work, visit my main website, davidroddis.com

To receive an email notification when I add new content, use the “Follow” button located in the right-hand sidebar menu next to any blog post. Click on the link “Blog Posts” at the top of this page,  and the posts will, thanks to the miracle of HTML5, appear.

Thanks for stopping by.

Best regards,

NEW-2015-signature-noDate-trans

Toronto, May 2nd, 2015.


¹ To view Christopher Beane’s work, visit his representing gallery,
Jim Kempner Fine Art.

Panel 1

A Welcome to Visitors

A warm welcome to readers both new and current.

My name is David Roddis, and I am a Toronto-based fine-art photographer.

As Florian Photo/Art I create extraordinary, large-scale, photo-based floral artwork that aims to astound.

I call this endeavor “The New Flower Photography”, an admittedly grandiose declaration which is a direct response to those who grit their teeth, roll their eyes, smile patronizingly or otherwise via their anatomy make it known that flower photography, to them, will ever be an exclusively amateur pursuit, utterly lacking in gravitas, and yielding nothing more than pretty snapshots destined for Flickr; that is to say, oblivion.

My monomania is also a response to those who do not understand either the concept or the value of pursuing one path with whole heart and single mind.  They urged me to add a few landscapes or show some of your portraiture.

In the spiritual sense, and even from a simple niche-marketing perspective, they were, and are, wrong; for in the spiritual sense, it is a profound life lesson in commitment to take a single concept to its limit; and in the marketing sense, how else would I obtain my goal of being the go-to guy for flower images?

I began in 2011, with the purchase of a Nikon 105mm prime lens for my camera, an idea of “doing things differently”, and not much else to go on in terms of guidance, direction or encouragement.

I did, however, have a “secret mentor” – the NYC-based artist Christopher Beane¹, whose monograph “Flower” changed my perspective and my world.

His rapturous, larger-than-life photographs of orchids, peonies, irises, tulips, ranunculus et al. astonished me with their sheer scale; seduced me with their texture, detail and intriguing abstraction; and sparked my imagination with their quirky-beautiful backgrounds – Murano glass, nail polish (!) – playfulness and frank sexuality.

flower-beane(I must hasten to add:  I say “secret mentor” because Mr. Beane was never actually my real-life, in-the-flesh mentor but only indirectly, by means of his monograph; and because he is, I presume, unaware of my considering him my mentor, or for that matter, of my existence.

 I imagine bumping into him in New York City, at the Union Square market, perhaps; or as he haunts 28th Street, Garbo-esque in dark glasses; I summon up a goofy-cum-psychopathic smile, gush at him about being my secret mentor, and watch, crestfallen, then horrified, as he backs away, slowly, slowly … A brief period in a holding cell followed by brusque repatriation to Canada completes the morbid fantasy.)

Many of the works seen on this blog are for sale.  To purchase both limited-edition and open-edition prints, and for a full portfolio of my work, visit my main website, davidroddis.com

To receive an email notification when I add new content, use the “Follow” button located in the right-hand sidebar menu next to any blog post. Click on the link “Blog Posts” at the top of this page,  and the posts will, thanks to the miracle of HTML5, appear.

Thanks for stopping by.

Best regards,

NEW-2015-signature-noDate-trans

Toronto, May 2nd, 2015.


¹ To view Christopher Beane’s work, visit his representing gallery,
Jim Kempner Fine Art.

Panel 2

Artist Statement

“… You’ve just got to choose a subject, and what you feel about it, what it means, begins to unfold if you just plain choose a subject and do it enough.”– Diane Arbus

 Real men shoot landscape.  Don’t they?

 

I know.  You’ve seen it all before.  Quick, what’s one of the first things you photograph with the macro setting of your new point-and-shoot camera?  A flower, of course!  (In fact, the macro setting is indicated by a flower, I suppose in case you lose your mind and start to shoot, say, a mushroom or a squirrel.)

David Roddis, "Rococo: Pink Tulips", 19x13" giclée print on natural rag paper. ©2011
David Roddis, “Rococo: Pink Tulips”, 19×13″ giclée print on natural rag paper. ©2011

And just wait for the comments.  No tiresome inhibitions prevent other photographers from giving you their opinion.  “Anybody can point their lens at a flower”.  (Why, thank you!)  I actually read that online a little while ago.  And although it’s true, I’d like to respectfully point out that anyone can point their lens at a mountain as well.  Real men shoot landscape!

It all boils down to that quote at the top, by the great Diane Arbus.  Just plain choose a subject… because the subject is a decoy, a red herring;  it’s a sneaky way of telling the world about the real subject: you.

 

How I started…

My initial choice of flowers as subjects grew out of my desire to explore their accessible and dependable emotional appeal as well as their obvious “prettiness”.  And, as a beginning (and largely self-taught) photographer at the time, I shot in predictable ways to get the results I understood were acceptable:  “well-composed”, “sharp”, going for maximum detail and surface appeal.

Of course, I knew enough to differentiate myself, considering that my goal was to sell my work.  So my motto was, and still is, “go big or go home.”  As well, I found unusual subjects – mostly at the north St Lawrence Market on Saturday mornings – and took extra care with production details like lighting and backgrounds to create more than just snapshots.

But in the end, prettiness became a disadvantage.  I was increasingly dissatisfied and, honestly, bored with the perfection of my subjects and their treatment; and above all with the tedious predictability of the digital process.

The digital camera was notably lacking in “happy accidents”,  and the only way forward seemed to be bigger, brighter, sharper…  The digital mindset put technique, and by extension, the machine, center stage, prompting ecstatic cries of:  “Such pictures! What an amazing camera you must have!”  (Restaurant patron to chef:  What a delicious meal! Your pots and pans must be extraordinary!)

But where was art – and the artist – in this scheme?

Creating the unexpected

I had always welcomed the flaw in the subject: brown spots, wilting petals; a scar, a bruise, a marauding insect; a reminder that not all was well in the garden.  To this I now added a perverse desire to subvert the very advantage that digital was supposed to bring to the table: a dumbed-down esthetic of technical competence; attainable perfection for all.

I pulled out my glass shooting table, lit it beyond all hope of metering with two flash units, and shot.  I jumped, I swooped, I shook the camera.  I ripped up the flowers.  I broke one strobe and, lacking resources to replace it, instead trained 500 watts of $10 worklight on my abused stars.  I panned with flash, without flash, and when the flash failed, I found art in that, too.  I set up extravagant bouquets to rival the Dutch masters’, and let them die in the summer heat.

I was in a state of joyous destruction.  And when I finished each shoot, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

The resulting images were a revelation. There appeared eruptions of primal energy, gorgeous chaos, where there had been stasis and entropy;  danger where there had been prettiness and order.  I had the first steps of a new way forward.

David at Akasha gallery, Toronto, speaking about “Aubade”.

The rules of my game

One feature of my practice remained, however:  I avoid adding special effects in post-processing.  Once a shoot is complete, my workflow is limited to traditional enhancement techniques such as dodging (brightening highlights) and burning (deepening shadows). Otherwise, any effects you see were there at the moment of shutter release; if there is blur, then the blur was the result of conditions at that moment, not an afterthought.

I also place two or more non-contiguous shots side by side to create diptychs and triptychs. I don’t hold with the current understanding of such pieces as one image cut into two or three, then re-assembled: It’s a devotional object, not a jigsaw puzzle.

I also continue to question what constitutes a photograph.  I know this much:  that the qualities sought after generally are possibilities, not requirements.  There is no more need for a photograph to be sharp than there is for a Monet canvas to be sharp (and how absurd that sounds!).  Sharpness is an aesthetic quality to be chosen, not a straitjacket to be worn.

Or, as renowned Canadian photographer and teacher Freeman Patterson has stated, “The correct exposure is the one that you want”.

I hope you enjoy seeing some of the exposures that I want.

David Roddis

January, 2014

Panel 3

Contact / Web presence

There are several places to find me on the web, and therefore several ways to be in touch:

This blog, flowerphotography.ca :
I invite you to follow this blog to receive notification of new posts.  Very often this is the first place I post new work. (Sign up on the home page.)

My website, davidroddis.com (using the Wix.com platform – highly recommended):
Visit my main website (davidroddis.com)

On Facebook (holds nose):
“Like” my Facebook page

Twitter:  
follow me on Twitter @droddisflowers

Enquiries regarding artwork purchases:
Use the form below to:

Make a comment or give feedback
Arrange a viewing of my work
Enquire about purchasing prints

If you prefer, feel free to email me at :  david@davidroddis.com