October 11, 2022
Photographer Spotlight - Stacy Bass
Stacy Bass is a New York and Connecticut-based professional photographer who specializes in shooting architecture, interiors, lifestyle and gardens. Her passion for capturing light, colour and the essence of place manifests itself in her images. You can see more of Stacy’s work at stacybassphotography.com and in her books, In the Garden and Gardens at First Light.
How did you get interested in garden photography?
It really happened by chance. After a long hiatus from photography (including time spent at law school), my interests then were primarily on architecture and design, so I imagined that shooting interiors for magazines would be my dream job — combining my passion for photography with my magazine obsession. I launched a website and never dreamed that within a few days, I would get a note from an art director essentially saying, “You’ve got something here. I don’t have an assignment to offer you, but I think someday soon I will.”
In the meantime, I continued to shoot whatever I could… and mid-winter, spent a fair amount of time shooting the flower arrangements that my husband sent me.
One such image really struck me and I decided to print and send it to that same art director (the talented creative director Amy Vischio) in hopes she would think of me when an appropriate assignment came along. It worked and I was eventually assigned to shoot a garden on Sasco Hill Road in Southport for Westport Magazine.
This particular shoot was a great starting point — a spectacular location with an inspiring view and some incredible gardens. And really, on that very first day, I was hooked. I loved the serenity of shooting on my own, without an assistant or teams of editors/art directors. And I loved the challenge of finding that perfect shot, the right angle, and a different way to show a subject that is familiar to everyone — to make a memorable image of something people might otherwise take for granted.
My initial interest in architectural abstracts was driven by a love of colour and light and how the interplay of the two can have magical results. I found, in particular with the close up botanicals that soon became my signature — that creating stunning and beautiful compositions with flowers, offered all that and the promise of the opportunity to see some magnificent places along the way.
Do you have any tips or tricks you can share?
Yes, a few helpful tips. 1: Shoot at dawn or dusk — and leave the midday sun to sun bathing. Shadows in the middle of the day make a proper exposure really challenging. 2: Use a tripod. Having the extra control and stability of a tripod allows you to shoot in lower light areas and still capture your subject perfectly. 3: Look for something to anchor your image. A garden feature or structure can help train the eye to just the right place from which to begin exploring. And last, but surely not least: 4: Before you depress the shutter, take an extra split second to look at each of the four corners of the frame and adjust accordingly. This simple step will save you a lot of time after the fact (in Photoshop or otherwise) and can improve your overall composition considerably.
What catches your eye when you’re photographing a garden?
I am most drawn to pattern and colour. I love to be able to witness the thoughtfulness that went into composing the garden and the choices that were made in how certain textures and tones interrelate. Gardens that are planned and organized with balance and symmetry in mind are always very compelling, though more than once, a chaotic or wild garden has been mesmerizingly beautiful.
What are some of your favourite gardens you have photographed? Are there any you would like the chance to shoot?
With a few exceptions, most of the gardens I have shot are privately owned, so listing their names wouldn’t be too helpful. I was lucky enough to photograph the Philip Johnson Glass House and gardens in New Canaan, Conn. Because that iconic place has been photographed by many, it was a particular challenge to find a fresh way to capture it and I really loved that opportunity (and succeeded, too)! As far as ones I’d like to shoot: so many of the private gardens around the coast of Lake Como, Italy, or in France have been on my wish list for some time.
What is your favourite camera gear for shooting gardens?
I shoot with a Nikon D4 Professional DLSR and a suite of lenses and a (heavy but hearty) Bogen tripod, which I have had for more than 30 years.
Portrait of Stacy Bass by Pamela Einarsen.