I am in the enviable position as a lover of wonderful gardens and excellent garden design to get to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show most years. This annual pilgrimage has been part of my life for over 15 years now in various forms. I started as a paying visitor, then working in the gardening industry for various companies I got to see the show and get paid for the privilege. I now visit the show as a photographer bringing my two passions together. They say if you can earn a living doing something you love you never work a day in your life again.
(See Above the Gallery of images captured of the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Scroll to view them all)
The above statement is very true I would pay to be at the show photographing the gardens but I do feel the pressure both before and during the event when I am there in my professional capacity. This year I had a more defined plan of what I wanted to capture. I have a couple of paying commissions while at the show so they were my priority, I also managed to capture some personal stock images for my library.
As a creative you are constantly questioning your work and looking to push the boundaries. I have been thinking a little more outside the box recently and wanted to capture some images with a different perspective of the show.
Most of the photographers visiting the show are looking to capture the gardens and plants in all their glory. They work to capture the gardens wonderful plants and structures in an effort to accurately document the event and showcase the designs. It is difficult with so many pros at the show to capture something new and unique that sets itself apart from the rest of the thousands of images taken. This year though I managed to grab some time to do just this, I had no real plan but wanted to just free up my mind and let some creativity flow letting inspiration take hold on the day. The images in this project were an effort to try to show my view and perspective of the show, the bits you don’t get to see on the television. The Chelsea Flower show is a truly great spectacle and the familiar sights to me all add to the occasion; the Chelsea Pensioners, Panama Hats, the famous visitors, the mechanics of producing the show for the watching audience, the handing out of the medals and the crowds of people these scenes and images were the images I wanted to document.
So off we go firstly I ditch the tripod and the bulk of my equipment just taking with me my Canon 5Dmkiv and 5Dmkii (always have a back up), plus two lenses a Canon 24-105mm F4 and my new 'baby' a Canon Prime 85mm F1.4. My head was fully focused and liberated as I set off walking around the show to capture those little documented moments. I had already managed to capture a few images while in ‘commissioned photographer’ mode. This new personal freedom though was truly liberating and once I started, scenes and images began to jump out at me all over the show ground. The images produced were captured over two days firstly Press Day, where you will see less crowds and then the first day the doors are open to the public.
One of the major benefits of being at the show on Press day is the opportunity to meet people who you admire and respect normally from afar. This year I managed to meet Sir Paul Smith and Luciano Guiubbilei who both feature in one of my images from the day sharing a personal moment. Sir Paul Smith wrote the foreward in Luciano’s book ‘The Art of Making Gardens’ which sits along side all my other creative influencer books on my book shelf. In the foreward Sir Paul states “In creative worlds of all kinds - fashion, flowers or others - its difficult to have longevity”. All of the creatives I admire, whether they are photographers, fashion designers or outstanding garden designers are there because they have managed longevity in their chosen fields and hopefully my journey will continue in a positive direction.
An interesting point to note, when I asked both Sir Paul and Luciano for a 'selfie' (I know not very professional but the reason will be revealed in a later blog post), both of them commented on getting into the correct position with the light, looking up to the sky for the sun's location and adjusting the framing of the shot for the best light, I guess when you look at the details in everyday life this comes naturally, I am glad I am not alone.
Lastly a special thanks to Chris Beardshaw for letting me onto his Morgan Stanley garden for the NSPCC. From inside the garden I managed to capture some images out into the crowds who were looking in on this beautiful ‘Best in Show’ Garden. This was perhaps one of my only planned shots of the day in my mind I wanted to capture an image from the plants perspective looking out at the crowds of people who visit the show.
I hope you enjoy the images.