Rediscovering Backyard Magic with @joshuadwhite
For more photos from Joshua’s A Photographic Survey of the American Backyard, follow @joshuadwhite on Instagram.
“A lot of my work has to do with memory,” explains North Carolina photographer Joshua White (@joshuadwhite). After capturing a photo of a freshly fallen whirligig on a solid-colored trash can, Joshua became intrigued by the way the seedpod’s shape stood out to him. Without the distractions of its busy natural context, it became both a specimen to examine and a work of art to contemplate. “I remembered what it was like to be a kid in the yard, looking at insects and plants,” Joshua says. “It felt like I was discovering nature again.”
Two years later, more than 500 photos now make up the project Joshua has titled A Photographic Survey of the American Backyard. He makes all of his photographs in a structured, repeatable process. As he details, “I photograph mostly on my back porch in the shade. I use sheets of white foam core from the art supply store, and I place the specimens on the end of a sewing or knitting needle to hold them out away from the background so that I can get as close to a shadowless background as possible.” From there, he positions the subjects to be just right, snaps the photograph, converts the photo to black and white and, finally, adds the Earlybird filter.
Joshua’s creative inspiration comes from his own lifelong curiosity. “I look for interesting forms and the unexpected. I will revisit the same subject several times to see how it changes, dissect seeds and flower buds to examine the structures inside and photograph different specimens of the same species over and over to look at the variation—but really it just comes down to interesting shapes, patterns and forms.” As for what comes next in the series, he has a very clear goal: “A box turtle is right at the top of the list. I get the most excited about things that I have specific childhood memories of, and finding a turtle as a kid was the holy grail.”
Like those pressed flowers my grandmother used to make, but updated for the iPhone era! Autumn is the best time of year to appreciate plant structures such as these, too. As they say, beauty is in the details. ~LM