Tulipa ‘Black Parrot’ | Parrot Tulip
Nymphaea odorata | Water Lily
Prunus serrulata ‘kanzan’ | Kanzan Flowering Cherry
Tulipa ‘Rococo’ | Parrot Tulip
Malus domestica | Apple Tree
Former fashion photographer Brad Oliphant explores the classical subject of flowers through a fresh and revitalizing lens in Enlightened Blooms: Floral Diptych Photograph (Glitterati Incorporated), his first photography monograph. From hibiscus and tea rose to amaryllus and calla lily, Enlightened Blooms presents thirty-seven distinct diptychs, each uniquely transformed through the photographer’s process of solarization.
Instead of intensifying the flowers’ colors, Oliphant chooses to first desaturate them, examining the forms and textures in black-and-white. Then, with the sensibility of a painter, he reintroduces color slowly and deliberately, for a final work both vibrant and restrained. Enlightened Blooms is a collection to treasure for lovers of botany and photography alike, along with anyone who has ever marveled at the elegant forms of the natural world. In Oliphant’s own words, “We walk down a city block fixated on our problems and our work, and all the while there’s beauty passing by.” With true artistic and technical mastery, Oliphant encourages a deeper appreciation of the beauty that continuously surrounds us.
Enlightened Blooms will launch on with a cocktail reception of Monday, May 18, from 5-7pm at Glitterati Incorporated, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 603, New York, To join the celebration, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with Enlightened Blooms in the subject line.
Oliphant speaks with The Chic about his life in photography. He recalls, “At a young age, eight years old to be exact, I remember watching National Geographic and specials on photography that quickly caught my interest and desire to pursue the craft. I remember studying pictures for school projects and remember saying to myself: ‘I want to do this.’ From early on, I had a desire to take pictures, even long before I knew what that entailed.
“It was also at age eight that my father bought me my first professional camera, after years of seeing my interest in the field. It was a Canon Rebel film camera. I remember it being a kit, which included a large focal length range lens. I also remember, however vague, receiving a tripod as well, however I don’t recall ever using it. My excitement to shoot kept me moving too fast to still myself to learn the craft of a tripod.
“I remember telling my parents at that age, and every age from there on, that I would one day make my world around photography. Even though I may not have known that I was choosing this path at the time, even later during my high school years and onto college, photography never left my side and always was my goal in life.”
Oliphant decided to pursue a career in photography because of “the way shooting made me feel. I felt free, and still do when I shoot. I like the fact that with photography you were able to use the craft almost anywhere and anytime. It did not require anything other than a vivid imagination and a will to learn and shoot.
“Shooting, without comprise, always places me in the present moment. Time stands still, and both past and future falls away, as well as all the attributes that are associated with time, such as bills, works, appointments, stress, and worries. It all falls away when I put the camera to eye. I fall into the gap between time and timelessness, where peace and creativity abides.”
As a photographer living and working in New York City, Oliphant finds a rewarding career. He observes, “I have always found such joy in sharing my work, and watching others becoming inspired by it. Working with others/people, and with nature is also a true gift. Travel is another. Traveling the globe has been one of my greatest educations in my life. Another reward would be being able to be alone and enjoy myself. I find when I shoot I always enjoy being with me. It's a time to reflect and allow spirit to indulge me with creativity.”
It is this creativity that finds its home in Enlightened Blooms. As Oliphant notes, “I was inspired to create a new body of work to allure a new audience, all the while keeping with my style and creative process found within my work. I felt that solarization would be a fine line to walk—exploring the extreme changes this process brings about all the while staying true to my creative style, while also offering the viewer a new look into the common flower. Solarization provokes conversation and intrigues viewers stimulating questions and answers.
“I was pushed to educate myself with new tools and processes to gain clarity on what made the process of solarization what it is, and how to manipulate the files while still keeping true to the original work. I also walked through some of my own fears of diving into such a process, such as rejection or negative feedback. I kept true to my own creative insights and felt this strengthened me, allowing me to broaden my horizons as an artist. I also pushed myself to research internal ways to push the boundaries within my camera body while shooting—pre-process as you will I found that exploring creative tools to apply to my shooting ‘in camera’ also gave me an edge on my art as a whole.”
Oliphant decided to explore the diptych format after a familiar experience many of us have had before. As he recalls, “I was buying a new pair of blue jeans last year and while viewing their fit through a three way mirror, I caught a glimpse of something that caught my eye—two of me, side by side and flipped—a mirror image. I took a selfie with my iPhone, as I always do when I am inspired by something I would like to give thought to for a creative process. I got the idea shortly after experimenting with solarization to pair the images; horizontally flipping one of each pair to mirror the images.”
Of the finished book, Oliphant marvels, “There is nothing like holding a paper bound, exquisite art book in your hands. I feel that offering a printed medium of my art offers a new look into the creative process. Seeing it digitally is one thing, but to see if printing it becomes art. To hold and examine a printed piece of art is personal and touching. It is the experience of turning the pages, reflecting, learning, being inspired that makes books what they are."
And it is this inspiration that makes Enlightened Blooms a visual meditation, a feast for the eyes. As Oliphant observes, “I believe chic is easily redefined within the eye of each beholder. For me, chic is to walk in confidence detached from labels and opinions—to be carefree as the wind walking with head held high. I see chic as something that is seen within the art world as being modern, inventive, and creative. Enlightened Blooms is chic, simple because it dares to be different, confident within itself and of its own beauty and mark to inspire. When something is chic, I gravitate towards an art piece. When I am pulled by the heartstrings to be in the presence of another. When my attention is diverted and gives room for pause. All of these and more makes me aware I am in the presence of chic. Chic is humility. Chis is beauty. Chis is art!”
Amaryllis belladonna | Amaryllis
Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’ | French Tulip
Dahlia hortensis | Dahlia ‘Red and White
Rosa damascene | Rose