by Marcelo Deguchi
Photography has become a very important tool for any florist who wishes to showcase their work. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. Flowers are all over social media. You'll find the most beautiful shots, from intricate posy bouquets to lavish floral arches.
What not all florists know, however, is the fact that flowers and photography have been closely related since the media's inception in the mid-1800s. One of the earliest photographic processes invented was called cyanotype. This contact printing process produces a cyan-blue print, hence its name. It does not require a camera and it is a simple process, so although its popularity was short-lived due to the discovery of other photographic processes involving silver nitrates, it was cheap enough to be industrially produced. It is most well known in fact, for having been used by engineers for copying documents known as blueprints.
Apart from blueprints, cyanotype prints were widely used by botanists to document plant species. Anna Atkins was one of the most famous British botanists and photographers to use this technique and is regarded as the first woman photographer. Atkins started documenting algae, ferns and waterweed species using the cyanotype process. Her cyanotype prints were published in Part 1 of British Algae in 1843 establishing photography as an accurate medium for scientific documentation and illustration.
Alternative photographic processes are now making a revival. Almudena Romero, a contemporary artist, has been exploring early photographic processes, such as the cyanotype. We were delighted to have her demonstrate this process in our floristry school. She showed us how this simple and straightforward process produced beautiful flower images.
Almudena firstly mixed two chemicals, ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide and water together. A light-sensitive solution was produced that was used to coat wooden cuts and paper with flowers placed on them.
These wooden cuts and paper were then exposed to sunlight. After the demonstration, it was our turn. We used leftover flowers from one of our floristry courses, and we think we got some great results for our first try!
Collaborating with artists like Almudena is really important for the London Flower School. Here are a number of images from a workshop that she ran on the cyanotype process at The Photographer's Gallery in London, which the London Flower School were delighted to sponsor with our flowers!