Design from Without

Karl Blossfeldt, a photographer in the late 1800s, fascinated many with his eyes to particular detail. His photos paved the way to the beginnings of modern day photography, where pictures are taken for documentation and pleasure rather than to glorify the poised aristocratic subject. Blossfeldt seeked inspiration from nature. He zoomed in closely on plants and placed them against a blank background to focus attention on the subject alone. Some of his work displays anthropomorphism which is giving human-like characteristics to something that isn’t human. Check out the photograph below:
Fraxinus Ornus Blumenesche Mannaesche Aufbrechende by Blossfeldt
Blossfeldt uses anthropomorphic trickery to show us the connection between humans and nature.The plant covers its face with its long fingers as if it is saying, “Oh no!” Being worried is an emotion all humans have experienced at one point or another.

I mentioned earlier that Blossfeldt’s pictures are similar to documentary photographs taken in the early 19th century. Before photography was invented, painted and sketched portraiture of human subjects reigned. Only the wealthy could afford to get their picture drawn or painted, and often the subject’s appearance would be manipulated in a way so it is aesthetically pleasing. A wealthy, ugly woman could be portrayed as a beautiful angel floating amongst clouds. Photography in the 19th century and beyond is more truthful and less manipulable. In portraiture photography, subjects are the focus of the paintings. The subjects’ traits are amplified, and without Photoshop, each crease in their face is apparent. The background is plain, without any distractions so that all attention is drawn a single point of focus. Rather than photographing the whole plant, Blossfeldt only shoots a single flower bud so that the spotlight is centered on one point. Shooting just a single part of a plant gives us the opportunity to enjoy it without other distracting images and see each minor detail – every leaf, every petal – as it truthfully is.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment