Training Beauty

Training Beauty
Published: Dec 14, 2012
A masterful photo artist lauds the craft of — well, we're not sure: sculpting, guiding, divining? — exquisite living miniatures.



We walk past rows of them, inspecting their curves and cracks: all equally spaced, rigged up to alarms, not permitted even the touch of another life form. They lean doggedly, some of them, mostly to the right. We take notes, nodding at one in particular. We ask to see the rest. Round the back, through a locked gate, up to a secluded shed. Inside there are more: some losing coverage; others becoming withered; all placed here, away from the public eye, for rest and restoration. We come across a younger one wrapped in wire. The metal, coiled tight around the body, directs the growth, binding its shape. We peer down at it, our eyes close up: it looks so small. Every day, month, year sees it drip-fed, micro-trimmed, bent slowly towards perfection, and ready for the spotlight.




With thanks to Kew Gardens, London.


Submitted by Roddy von Seldeneck (not verified) on Sat, 11/23/2013 - 20:23


I love these photographs. I'm assuming they are underexposed on purpose to make it look like a tree just after dusk or emerging through the earliest of dawns. Absolutely gorgeous because these are the greatest times to explore the forest and so I feel invited by these photographs to explore, the illusion of age and size benefits from your photography gloriously. Thanks for sharing.

Roddy von Seldeneck
Sat, 11/23/2013 - 20:23

Submitted by andy brokenshire (not verified) on Wed, 03/05/2014 - 20:55


Those are horrible pictures. Demand a re-shoot. I work in advertising and have worked with hundreds of photographers. A good photographer can make an image dark and moody and still give it depth and life. I'm sorry... but I can barely see the trees. So what was the point of the shoot? I feel like someone should retouch the moon above the trees because I feel like I'm outside at 3 a.m. I don't mean to be harsh but what a waste of, from what I can hardly make out, some magnificent subject matter.

andy brokenshire
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 20:55

Hi Andy,

I'm sorry you find my pictures "horrible". Clearly you are someone with extensive photographic experience and therefore feel justified in making such a comment. It is quite possible that as you work in advertising you are unused to photographers arranging their own projects rather than working from somebody else's brief; one of the big differences between an artistic project and a commercial one is that the entire project from concept to execution tends to be the progeny of one person. As such, the message and the meaning of the pictures doesn't always have the same sort of "creativity by committee" approach that the advertising world embraces. With that in mind, perhaps you could approach my work with the question "why has he shot like this" in mind, rather than dismissing it outright? After all, if we're waving credentials around, commercial clients like Nike keep coming back to me, and institutions like the RISD show my work in their flagship exhibitions — which is to say, some fairly good judges have made a positive qualitative judgement of my work, so perhaps there is more to the pieces I show here than an instant response will show?

Tom Medwell

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 14:24

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