Through the magic of Zoom we were able to invite Polina Plotnikova as our first guest speaker of the year on Friday 10th Sept 2021. Polina studied History of Art in Moscow State University. Polina’s presentation was focused on her favourite photography subjects which were Flower Portraits and Still Life. Polina considers herself as a studio photographer.
Polina’s first half of her presentation was focused on her Flower photography and which
great artists from the past that had inspired her. Polina stated her first inspiration was an artist named Jan Van Huysum, a Flemish painter, who was predominantly a still life painter but used flowers quite a lot in his work. Jan would draw a very detailed picture of every single flower which he would later include in his final arrangement which was an approach that Polina loved. Polina adopted this approach and loved to photograph the image exactly as she saw it in her mind because she doesn’t like compromises.
When impressionism kicked in, all of a sudden there was a different way of painting flowers and literally translated, impressionism was “your impression of how the flowers looked”. The painting of flowers were not as detailed and precise as before. Polina also held in great esteem the work of other great impressionism artists.
Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was a female artist that Polina mentioned and admired greatly, due to the very close up angle or view of how she painted flowers which would equate to a photographer taking a “Macro” shot. With the introduction over, Polina then showed us some of her work. She explained that she always worked with images with a portfolio in mind. Sometimes she could be shooting photos for a portfolio for a couple of years, at least. Polina's approach to flower photography is similar to that of a portrait photographer. She went on to explain for every flower and plant that she photographs, she always tries to find its unique look, study its mood and character, and ultimately unlock the hidden beauty of her “models”.
Polinas favourite suggestion was that of a deep sea creature like an octopus. Another suggested it looked like an alien, so again Polina was showing how people see things differently. “sea creature” flower Polina's final portfolio was named White on White and earned her a Silver Gilt Medal at RHS London shades of Autumn show 2013.
Polina then went through photos of a second Portfolio that she had completed. It was named “Past Perfect” and consisted of photos of flowers which were wilting and dying. This portfolio is based on Polina’s fascination with Karl Blossfeldt’s work.
Polina made the reference to human models to highlight the fact that the beauty in both fresh and withered flowers can also be found in younger and older human models.
Polina went on to show us more photos of Orchids on beautiful pastel coloured backgrounds, followed by which camera lens that she would prefer to use. The lens she used, from a visual point of view, was a deliberate distortion or overall softness of the image. She went on to show us a collection of photos she had taken using this particular lens and said having one small part of a flower in focus and some of the flower blurry created a certain mood and atmosphere.
Polinas final portfolio on flowers was what she called “Dancing flowers” She has always been fascinated with dance and movement so how could she get her flowers to dance ? The only option Polina had was to make her “camera dance” while taking the photo. She figured out how to apply this technique to cause a ghostly shadow that followed the flower.
To see more of Polina's work, visit her web site at https://www.polinaplotnikova.com/