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Wednesday 17 July 2013

A Feast of Flowers: Palm Springs workshop with Flowerwild and José Villa

I am completely enamoured with flowers. Their fragrance, their fragility, the sway of their stems, the softness or saturation of colour and the emotions they stir inside me.
In October, when Nikki first asked me to help her give Petals a make-over, I was over the moon. We arranged that we'd do a barter - I give her my photography and graphic design skills, and she gives me flowers. As part of that gift was an incredible journey west to the Flowerwild Workshop in Palm Springs.

We spent three days with an amazing group of talented people who were all as in love with flowers as me. The only difference was that they all knew what they were doing and I had no clue. The real reason I was there was to meet José Villa. He is an amazing photographer and I have followed, and admired his work for years. He shoots film, which, combined with the soft California light, makes his images just dreamy.

The first day was spent discussing the nitty gritty of running a floral business. I listened intently, though I was constantly distracted by the stunning array of blooms over my right shoulder. The buckets were overflowing with lilacs and ranunculus, frittilaria, muscari, lotus, sweet pea and tulips.

Finally, it was time to play. Kate talked us through making a bridal bouquet. She did it with such ease; she selected, gathered and tied all her blooms together, et voila a gorgeous bouquet. I on the other hand pondered the bucket's for ages, then stared at the blooms I'd selected, paralysed and unable to start. So I decided to wander off  and photograph everyone else.

Although Nikki has had Petals for years, she has never really been that involved with arranging. But she was amazing. Perhaps it was beginner's luck; but it is more likely that she has an innate talent and eye for colour and texture.

After watching everyone else, I finally plucked up the courage to start. But it seemed to take forever, and although I was enjoying it, my hand started to hurt from clutching the stems so tightly. So although I was not thrilled with my bouquet, my hand dictated that I was done. Besides, shooting flowers is my strength so I was eager to get back to that.

Erin shot this photo of Nikki and me with our bouquets - I suppose my bouquet is not bad for a first effort. They say that practice makes perfect...

Then it was time to begin the shoot. Kate had created idea boards and gathered together a fabulous array of props, four stunning gowns, two beautiful models and one amazing photographer! 
José began the shoot with Erin Benzakein's bouquet. I had also been following Floret Flower Farm's beautiful blog long before going to the workshop. It was wonderful to talk to her about her farm as I am trying to convince Nikki that we should grow some flowers locally. Although, given that it has not rained here for over a month and every plant on the island is almost dead, maybe it is not the best idea. But maybe we could grow from December 1 to June 1.

Kate and José work together often, so it was great to see the fluidity of their movement.
 Prop styling and rentals by Jeni Maus of Found Vintage rentals.

 Above Jackie's bouquet and below, her daughter Chelsie's bouquet - Jackie's Flowers

José's image is above and mine is below. I am always so fascinated to see how different photographers capture the same thing. I often shoot weddings with other photographers and it is interesting how different the images are. There is a wonderful milky softness to José's images, created both by using film and shooting at low f stops.

Abany Bauer started as a stylist, but has now branched into creating florals for events

Kate decided that my bouquet would work well in this rustic wooden dough bowl. 

Gretel Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm made this lush bouquet. She not only grows flowers, she also makes flower soap. Gretel gave us each a bar as a gift, which I must say I love, and am still using.

Erin's bouquet - this time mine and José's images are more similar.

Kate made a second bouquet - I love this one too. The echo of the lotus and the Japanese maple is beautiful to me.
And this image is shot with the lens baby. A crazy warping lens that I hardly ever use, but thought would be fun for some of the flowers.

Nikki and I ventured outside into the blazing heat for a few shots of her beautiful bouquet. Another thing that is wonderful about California - the trees. The greenery seems much bluer than all the trees here. In the background are olive trees, which are not only a lovely colour, but the leaves are more sparse to let the perfect amount of light through. 

 Bouquet by Ashley Bond at Spread Love Events

Kathy Burnham's beautiful bouquet; I love her colour palette.

Kim Sanders at Art with Nature Design

Also new to the flower world, Elizabeth Durels is a graphic designer. She has been working with Ashley at Spread Love Events, so they decided to come to the workshop together.

 Chelsie made this lovely headpiece.

Witney watches José shooting the flower tiara she made.

  Kelly Perry's bouquet. It was great to have so many different props to give each bouquet it's own story.

 Bouquet and headpiece by Ashley Fox. The fragrance was heavenly with the mix of lilac and sweet pea.

Interesting again to see the difference in our images. José focused on the flowers and I on the model.

Mar Romero of Team Hair and Make Up doing a little touching up before José shot Chelsie's headpiece.

It really was a floral feast. Thank you all for creating such beautiful bouquets, Kate for bringing us together and to José for letting me follow you. I do hope I was not too much of a pest.
At the end of the day when everyone went off to have a celebratory cocktail by the pool, José, Mar, these lovely ladies and I went off into the dessert to shoot some more. I felt so small; Bermuda is so tiny and our largest open space is probably only a few acres. The evening light was divine and watching José photograph the girls skip and laugh made me happy. It was the perfect end to an amazing California sojourn.

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