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My good friend Sven loves his garden. In fact, the garden has become much more than his post-retirement pastime. The Garden Space, as he calls it, is his way of celebrating the abundant beauty of God’s creation. He’s truly an artist and his canvas is a large rectangle of flat, fertile land that surrounds his home in Ladner. His ability to create many different spaces of exquisite beauty within the garden is not only inspiring, it’s mind boggling.  As a photographer, I admire Sven’s garden because I can see that he uses  many of the same principles of design that I use in composing a photograph.

Sven’s gifted wife Laura, also a good friend, is an accomplished calligrapher. One day, Laura and I came up with the idea to merge my photography with her calligraphy and create a calendar of Sven’s garden through the months. What a great project! It kept me travelling regularly from Langley to Ladner to photograph the garden and included the bonus of a few lunches, lots of coffee breaks and many good conversations.

After photographing the garden through four seasons, one of the hardest tasks was narrowing down the vast folder of images to the dozen or so that would fit into a calendar.  And then it was time for Laura’s magic touch with her calligraphy. Having researched and pulled from a collection of sources, she penned a dozen quotes for the calendar. We had lots of back and forth and eventually were satisfied with the final set of images and their respective quotes. Some images, we decided, spoke so clearly that we felt they were better without a quote. Soon after uploading to the printers, we eagerly opened the box of calendars which would become Christmas gifts.

Here is a look at the monthly pages of our calendar. We hope the pictures are as enjoyable to you as it was for us in creating them. And thanks to Sven for all the unseen grunt work that made the images possible!

For Photographers:

One thing that I regularly encourage my photography students to do is find a project that is meaningful for them to work on. When we do this, we have a purpose for our photography. For me, the purpose was to portray the beauty in the garden each month, whether it was the gift of new life or the dying remnants. This was a challenging task in a garden as large as Sven’s. But the clarity of my purpose caused me to look more deeply than I might have before and pushed my photographic boundaries, always a good thing. And, having a product in mind as our endpoint provided a tangible target for our project. I knew that the images would do more than languish in my computer.

Working with Laura on the project was another stimulus for growth. Normally, it’s just me who decides which of my photos go forward or not. Most photographers would recognize that sharing the job of image selection with another is a bit of a risk. But working with Laura, I was encouraged when she saw things in the images that I hoped she would see as well as things I hadn’t noticed. We also were able to easily agree on which images to include and exclude.

Our collaboration was working.

So, for the photographers out there, I hope you will be encouraged to embark on your own photographic project. And share it with us.


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