Q&A with Andrea Jones, author of ‘The Garden Photography Workshop’

By Shelley Pierce | July 2, 2017
Image by Timber Press
by Shelley Pierce
July 2, 2017

Andrea Jones has photographed gardens professionally for over twenty years and is now recognized as one of the world’s foremost garden photographers. Her many varied assignments have taken her around the globe, working on books, magazines and newspaper assignments.

Andrea studied art and then photography in the South of England before entering the commercial photographic world. Whilst building her portfolio she was involve with buying and selling Leicas in the 80s, studio work for advertising, assisting a leading interiors photographer, working with Dr Jane Goodall in Africa on wildlife projects in the field and full circle to photographing gardens in Dorset in the 90s. All these experiences contributed to a diverse range of photographic skills she could not have predicted. A spell with fine art photographer Bruce Rae in London revived her love of darkroom skills and sharpened her attention to the subtleties of light.

Now based in Scotland, Andrea exhibits her work internationally, and has had several successful solo exhibitions in both the United Kingdom and the United States.  In her latest book, “The Garden Photography Workshop“,she shares her expert tips and techniques for capturing the essence of a garden.  Read on to learn more about this Timber Press book and enter to win one of four copies!

1. What is the allure of garden photography for you?

Two of my favorite things in life are Light and Nature. Influenced I am sure by my Mother who loved gardens and Father who loved photography, since a child I became fascinated and inspired by naturally occurring art forms followed swiftly by a curiosity for how the camera could capture images and the darkroom bring them to life.
Nothing beats being in a garden alone before daybreak and watching the light break through the foliage, the squirrels rustling though the branches and hearing the birds greeting each other and the day ahead.

2. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “the more you view your garden through a lens, the more you may be inspired to edit both.” How has this applied to your own personal gardens?

I find the most successful gardens to visit, enjoy and photograph are those that have been designed really well. Every way you look a composition falls effortlessly into my camera’s viewfinder. Very often falling into the framework of the ‘golden section’.

I find my own garden is the hardest of all to photograph as I am sure most people do. I’m so emotionally involved in it. Sometimes when I am photographing it I realize when I look through the viewfinder that perhaps an area doesn’t always quite work, so I set to reorganizing a group of plants or realigning the direction or curve or line of a border. Getting out in my garden with a camera often leads to a me heading to the shed to find a shovel shortly after!

3. Of all 10 gardens profiled in this book, which one was the best learning experience for you and why was it the best?

I learn something from every garden I visit. I think one of the most fascinating was Farrs in Dorset, England. The garden itself is divided into a ‘his and hers’ space. His a stylish contemporary and hers a pretty more traditional country garden. Two quite different personal spaces. Both artistic and beautifully composed yet opposite in their approach. I learned a lot about design from that garden and how each of the couple respected the other’s space. John and Jennie Makepeace, a world renowned craftsman and his wife, brought inspirational color, shape and form to the garden and I needed to think hard as to how to capture it’s subtleties successfully by trying step into their shoes and see through their eyes.

4. I think it would be fair to say that a majority of us rely on smartphones for picture taking. Does your book help those with smartphones to achieve a wow factor or do we need to get the latest DSLR?

Horses for courses. I really enjoy using a smartphone on occasions – it’s always to hand and such fun to use to capture moments I might otherwise miss. Spontaneity – that’s what is is really brilliant for.

However the quality and opportunities a DSLR with a good range of top spec lenses gives is in another league and I couldn’t do my job as a professional photographer without them but I think there is a time and a place for each level of device.
I think my book will help folk who want to use either – and perhaps decide if they want to try an alternative. I think the most important thing to learn if you are using a simple device like a smartphone is to look. Really observe. Be patient, take your time and look through every angle before making a decision to photograph your subject. I think this goes for all formats – including smart phones. Imagine you are an artist painting in oils outside ‘en plein air’. Would n’t you have checked out every angle before settling on your composition and setting up your easel? Photography is no different and taking loads of frames and hoping one comes out right isn’t the answer!

5. How does your book help us to make our photographs more exciting, yet reliable and help us to be ready for those magical photo-taking moments?

I hope my book will firstly enthuse readers and inspire new ideas for their image making by beginning to rethink the way they approach picture taking and study their subject. Secondly, I’d really like to help people who enjoy photographing their garden get more predictable results. I offer tips to take the hit and miss out of photography and explain why sometime pictures don’t always turn out how you might expect! Practice makes perfect but some gentle hints and tips might help.

6. You provide your readers with a camera bag full of tricks. What features in your book will a budding garden photographer find the most helpful?

Hopefully the ten case studies in particular will offer some guidance to those who have struggled in certain situations. The case studies cover different seasons, climate and light conditions. The owners use a variety of equipment so I hope there will truly be something for everyone to gain from these examples.

WIN ONE OF FOUR COPIES OF ‘The Garden Photography Workshop‘!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, July 9, 201 7 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

What do you like to photograph in your garden?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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