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Gardens At First Light with Photographer Stacy Bass

GARDEN DINING

Happy Weekend everyone with a closer look at Gardens At First Light and the gifted photographer behind the lens..

Many of you have been asking more about the beautiful coffee table book that I’m hosting a Mother’s Day Giveaway on Instagram for.. Why not share more about it and the talented photographer here. I have to admit… this book has become my absolute favorite book on gardens to date. The incredible captures at dawn from the amazing, Stacy Bass are drool worthy to say the least. I stumbled upon Stacy’s work years ago and her garden images at sunrise are unlike any I’ve ever seen.
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SUNKEN STONE PATIO

This book is a collection of 12 intimate gardens.  All of the gardens are different and beautiful. From amazing architectural elements reflected through the gardens and homes to the mixtures of stunning flowers and greenery… these gardens speak to me. There really is a garden for everyone as is eveident here. Another feature in this beautiful book is the generosity of the garden owners in sharing their detailed landscape designs with everyone so we can learn more in depth about what they placed where and why.  So much landscape knowledge and beauty to be absorbed.

Gardens At First Light reflects Stacy’s ability to grasp the newness that arrives with each morning light.. It’s my favorite time of day when everything is unfolding and fresh beginnings are so promising.  The mornings speak to Stacy and it shows in her careful way of capturing the light and time.  I’m thrilled that Stacy has shared more about herself through an interview below… I’m always interested in learning what inspires an individual who looks through a lens.  Photography is an amazing art form that I’ll always love and respect.  To order Garden At First Light click here.

1. If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?

For sure, I’d be doing something creative and visual– but with a detail-oriented and organized bent–either a movie producer, an interior designer or….maybe a creative director at a magazine.  Something that speaks to my paper fetish would be nice, too!

HYDRANGEA IN STONE URN

2. What inspires you about photography or capturing the perfect photo/moment in time?

I think what I love most about photography is the chance to frame a scene in a way that is beautiful but different than it may have been viewed before.  I love the challenge of using my camera and my eye to organize the elements before me and to be able to share that vision with others.  Though this is true with interiors photography, it is in some ways more so with landscapes and gardens …when the natural elements cannot be shifted or altered and I need to move my lens and change my perspective to capture it.

SPHERE FOUNTAIN GARDEN

3. What places have you photographed that have been most interesting to you?

I love going to a new place, usually before the sun rises and the surprise, if you will, about what will be before me as the sun comes up. 

Unless it is necessary for an assignment, I prefer not to look at scouting shots so that I can react, in real time, to what I see and not have any preconceived notions about what to shoot and from what angles.  When I approach it that way, it feels like an adventure and a chance for exploration/discovery more so than a job/assignment.

In that regard, I also love going to a new city and the excitement about translating the experience of seeing it for the first time with my camera.

PYRACANTHA (FIRETHORN)

4. People that are your biggest influences?

There are so many but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say my father and my grandmother have been the biggest influences in my life.  

I am inspired by so many artists and photographers and keep a mental glossary of my favorite pieces in images in my mind.  These often inform my work.

PURPLE, BLUE CLEMATIS
PAEONIA ‘CHARLES BURGESS’

5. Pivotal moments in your career….?

There have been a few key ones.  

1.       Deciding to spend a year out of college working in the photography world

2.       Deciding to go to law school at the end of that year

3.       Giving up working at a law firm to go into the movie business at Savoy Pictures (with a 60% pay cut!)

4.       Going home to CT to help my brother run the family business after my father died (despite an offer from Barry Diller to work for him when he acquired Savoy)

5.       Putting a website of photography up and hoping someone would see it!

6.       First assignment—which ended up on the cover!  (but then incidentally,  my very first “real” photo assignment (age 19-20?) for Columbia University’s magazine was to photograph Keith Haring in his studio. Shot ended up on cover and in fact, I recently met with his foundation and donated all of my images from that shoot for their archives and use.

SPHERE FOUNTAIN GARDEN

 6. What are your hobbies/charities/interests?

Hmmm…skier (former giant slalom racer and ranked in state), love to travel, movie fanatic

I was formerly the President of the board for the Westport Public Library and have been part of committees for numerous charitable organizations. Most notably: Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Arts Center, Near and Far Aid Association.  I was also on the advisory board for a Youth Film Festival.

PERENNIAL GARDEN WITH OGEE ARCH

7. Tell us about your story (path, creations, beginning…)

As many of the best things in life are….how I came to be a garden photographer was really by chance.  I am trained as an attorney, worked in the motion picture business and later in commercial real estate, but photography was really my passion. I took some time off when my children were born and when it was time to go back to work about 12 years ago, I put up a website— hopeful that someone would discover my work but with reasonable expectations. In very short order, a brilliant art director named Amy Vischio saw my work and sent me a lovely note— full of promise but with no real offer to work.  Then…many months later, she called and hired me to photograph a garden.  I had no experience shooting gardens but jumped at the chance to do it.   The assignment was to shoot a gorgeous property high on a hill in Southport, Connecticut. I was alone and the light was spectacular and I was so enchanted by the chance to wander around this gorgeous place, discovering new surprises at every turn.  It was so serene but yet very alive and SO very visual, I couldn’t wait for the next one. And really, on that very first shoot, I was hooked.

 

SCULPTURE GARDEN
8. What are the sources of inspiration for this photos about Gardens at First Light?
‘Gardens at First Light’ is my second book about gardens. The first one, In the Garden, was released in 2012 to stellar reviews and quickly became a bestseller. This newer book was really inspired by the dawn and the unique and unmistakable quality of the light at that time of day.  I have often said that the dawn is my muse— quietly compelling and the perfect time of day to capture nature’s beauty.

 

BEAN TEEPEES
9. Tell us a bit about this book. Did you visit these places? What were your impressions about these gardens?
‘Gardens at First Light’ is an in depth visual exploration of 12 amazing private gardens— Several I visited more that once but otherwise, the images were shot on one occasion at dawn.  Each one has a different feeling and focus; a different palette and selection of plantings; and a different overall vibe.  In addition to very hard working and informative essays on each property and captions written by Judy Ostrow, we also included a very detailed Reference Guide which offers hand drawn sketches of the gardens and provides more detailed information for the more avid gardener.  Our goal was

to make the book beautiful to look at but also a useful tool.

 

PERENNIAL BORDER
10. What are the adjectives that might describe your style as a photographer?
I’m told my images (of gardens and botanicals and otherwise) have a natural, lit from within aesthetic; that they are graphic and very strongly composed
and that they beautifully convey the essence of a person or place.
PINK DAHLIAS
11. How do you choose the subjects for your photos?
I find gardens to shoot in 3 main ways:  1. I am hired by a magazine to photograph a feature; 2. I am hired by a landscape designer or architect to
capture their work for their portfolio and potential publication and 3. I am hired by the homeowner to create image of the property or garden for their

own archives and reference.

MEDITATION GARDEN
12. Are there any people in arts, design or in other lines of work that influenced your style? How and why?
When I think about photographers that have most influenced and informed my work, I think first of Ernst Haas (Ernst Haas (1921–1986) is acclaimed as one of the most important figures in 20th century photography and is considered a pioneering artist in color photography) and Jay Maisel—both were/are geniuses with composition and had a complex and masterful sense of color and color play. I also adore and am inspired by the work of Ralph Gibson, Eliot Porter and
am consistently drawn to the spectacular work by UK based garden and landscape photographer Clive Nichols and Irving Penn, And William Waldron.

And Simon Upton.  And Johnny Miller….shall I go on?

 
13. How would you define style in photography?
To me, “style” in photography is how one would describe the photographer’s “eye” — a combination of what they choose to shoot and how they capture that

subject. It’s the singular combination that defines that photographer vision.

 

PEONY GARDEN
14. What are the projects you have not worked on yet and you would like to do?
I have just finished a 365 Flower of the Day challenge through my instagram which was really wonderful.  It required real focus and commitment to not
miss a single day. I then took each of the images and created a grid of the process.   I’d love to be hired to be the official photographer of the Aman
resorts—where I’d be required to travel to all of the locations, on rotation, every year (and get to bring my family along too). I’d love to
shoot the gardens of Europe for a book project. And I’d love to do a multi-day interior and garden feature on Aerin Lauder. And….And….so much I’d
still like to do!

 

Thanks so much Stacy for sharing your vision with all of us… I am in love with your work and your ability to share the most spacial time of day in the garden. xx

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