For over 10 years now, one of my personal obsessions has been photographing blossom trees. Vancouver has about 40,000 of them and every year they herald the end of the Winter blues and the arrival of Spring. Even better, they direct us towards Summer fun, through an explosion of colour. After a lot of rain the appearance of the pink petals is more than a welcome sight, it’s a call to action. For me, it means grabbing a camera and trying to capture their magic. It’s an elusive subject matter, to say the least, sometimes a frustrating assignment, but always one that fascinates me.
Firstly, when it comes to colour, I like to photograph blossom with a blue sky in the background. The colour of the blossom comes alive with this contrast. This means waiting for a sunny day, which can take a while in early Spring. Secondly. I like when there is also intermittent cloud. I have found, over the years, that when the sun is rounding a cloud, it can light up separate parts of the tree, providing for depth and some interesting shadows.
Then you have to move fairly fast, getting to the trees you want to shoot and working with the available light. You don’t really need an expensive camera, all the photos I took here are with a $150 point and click. More important is getting inside the subject matter, at the perfect moment, the Cartier-Bresson decisive moment, which for this subject is the moment when the blossom is at full bloom and the sky and lighting are in harmony. It’s an elusive moment. Within a few days, the opportunity for this moment can be gone for another year.
You know when you are in this moment because the most amazing thing happens, and for me personally this is what makes it fascinating, you instantly feel like you are observing a conversation. It’s like being a third wheel in the company of a romantic couple that are really into each other.
The blossom reaches out to the magical energy of life and connects within the light of the sunshine. Inside that moment it’s humility that allows you to remain without being an impostor. If you try and control the moment, it will be gone. You can’t control what is happening, all you can do is to simply stay connected and try to understand what you are observing. As suddenly as the moment arrives, the sun will disappear behind the clouds, the blossom leaves will fall and the wind will blow them along concrete sidewalks into the heat of the Summer.
I found the moment this morning, here are my photos, imperfect as they are, of the mystery of blossom.