“I grew up in a world full of flowers,” explains botanical photographer Rebecca Swanson, who was a guest at a small party here yesterday in honor of my son Alex’s visit from Beijing. “My grandmother was a china painter, painting roses and other flowers on porcelain,” she says, “and from a young age I tried to copy her skillful hand.” Rebecca studied drawing, painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Institute of Art and moved to New York to become a textile designer, painting florals for swimwear and lingerie.
“Now I paint with my camera,” she says of her lush, intimate portraits of perfect, individual blooms. “In a subtle way, my flowers are self-portraits. They allow me to look at myself and the world in which we live, find a place of peace, and see the universal beauty and fragility we all share,” she adds. “Each flower has its own story and personality. Some are bold. Some are shy. Some are grand.”
Married to my firm’s IT provider, Michael Rowe of Digital Society, an Apple store in Greenwich Village, Rebecca spends much of her time behind her Fuji Finepix S-3 Pro digital camera in gardens throughout the city. When not finding the perfect bloom at the New York Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, or Brooklyn Botanical Garden, she trolls the flower district for the freshest flowers to photograph in her home studio, where she does her own museum-quality, archival printing on an Epson Stylus Pro 4880 printer.
She has been exhibiting since 1995, and her photographs are in private and corporate collections, including Banana Republic stores around the country, the Harry Ransom Research Center (Austin, TX), Montefiore Hospital (Bronx, NY), and Hudson Valley Hospital (Cortlandt Manor, NY). They adorn the guest rooms at The St. Regis Atlanta and at the penthouse at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel. She has photographed gardens for Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Foundation, and her pictures were featured in an article about Ina Garten’s (“The Barefoot Contessa’s”) apartment for House Beautiful magazine.