You’ll know if you have followed me for a while that plants are not my one single ‘passion project’…they have always had to partner up with interiors and my love of design. For this post I wanted to have a bit of a chat about the process of photographing for Instagram and some of my considerations when doing so. I realised recently that although I share a mix of plants and interior styling on my Instagram, there are definitely instances where squares just don’t capture the whole picture. Don’t get me wrong, I love squares. I spent much of my twenties shooting film on my Hasselblad medium format film camera- and looking back at it, seeing those 6×6 squares on a contact sheet of 12 shots has an uncanny relation to Instagram feeds when viewed on a mobile phone.

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‘The grid’ as it is commonly known, is flexible in that it allows for some different orientations when viewing individual images,  if shooting portrait/landscape better suits your subject though, Instagram zooms in on the photo so that the feed still conforms to a grid of squares. There are quite a few accounts out there that subvert this prescribed rigidity by making/ imposing their design savvy on their pages – circular photos, larger white borders, panorama, close ups of one image over 12 squares… plenty of ways to be creative.

For me though, on my Instagram feed, I like squares. I like the enforced frame I am given to work within. I like having to step back that bit further to get everything in shot in square format. But mostly, I think I like it because it reminds me of shooting medium format film. Something I haven’t quite managed to ‘translate’ from my analogue photography days though is brevity… getting that shot ‘in one take’. 12 frames per roll of film meant I really had to restrict myself from over-shooting as I then had to self process all the film (medium format processing is expensive otherwise). Hours spent with chemicals in complete darkness to develop three rolls of film of one very similar composition is not OK. So that’s why I want to think of my poor 99% full-of-photos-phone in all this – at first, it took me a while to get used to a phone lens over an analogue one, and this was the reason for taking 40 photos of one planty corner of my home. But going forward I want to try and spend a little longer composing my frame instead of click, click, click. For humour, here are some recent screenshots of my drafts folder on Instagram:

Anyway, here are some rectangular photos shot on my SLR camera of my personal and perpetually evolving plant styling project – aka. my apartment. I want to share some new perspectives on how I live with plants, and furniture, and how a love for one doesn’t have to preclude the other. When I properly ‘got into’ plants a few years ago I struggled with this and sometimes it still feels like the plants are taking over, but when this happens, I start over. It sounds drastic but it works. I like to empty the space of plants and clean, then add things back in slowly with aesthetics and design being as important as finding the right plants for the right places. This tried and tested method is the only thing that stops my work desk feeling like it’s a potting table much of the time!

DSC_0421Above shows my living space from an angle I don’t usually share on Instagram, mainly because it’s one of darkest parts of my apartment; so is not very ‘plant friendly’! As the seasons change I can move things around here a bit, but for now, my syngonium ‘pixie’ is happy on my G Plan sideboard, with my part of nan’s aspidistra to the left. Ms maidenhair fern likes living here in the brighter months, but with the lack of light at the moment, needs to be nearer a window. The same goes for my spider plant, which was fine here in the summer, but has since been moved back into my office.

Below is the current setup in my office, though the desk plants are always changing as it doubles up as a watering/potting station more often than I’d like to admit.

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DSC_0652.jpgAspidistra in the evening sun below – in the summer months it gets a nice amount of light here at the end of the day, in the winter…not so much! I use a grow light here at night to help.

DSC_0658.jpgDSC_0824-1.jpgDSC_0886.jpgAs you’ll be able to tell from the previous two photos, where lack of light is a problem, I opt for ‘safe’ plants for these space; the photo above shows my ZZ plant, which can tolerate darker places very well. Yes, growth is slower, but I’m pleased to report that it grew three new shoots in this position over the summer. Over the other side of the room, my sanseveria and maidenhair fern can handle this level of light – approximately 2.5 metres away from a west facing window, with trees outside (this makes quite a difference as the light is ‘filtered’ as opposed to direct).

Below is my dressing table which generally remains this way most of the year. Last week I put the maranta in a macrame hanger to make a bit more room on here.

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View from my window, jungle vibes:

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I hope you enjoyed this slightly different, reflective post and if you have any requests for something you’d like me to write, please send me a DM on Instagram.

Thanks for reading!

Laura 🌿


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Posted by:IPCRES

2 replies on “From squares to rectangles: on photography, and the interface between houseplants and interiors

  1. How funny. I do not mean to change the subject, but I just wrote about how much I dislike the rule of ‘3’, that was so stressed when I was in school. I am only a horticulturist, not a landscape designer, so I do not need to like it. Yet, we are all reminded of the importance of conformity to it. I happen to like the symmetry and simplicity of Early American architecture, even though it is bland and boring by contemporary standards. I like pairs and the formality of four, and eight, and so on. Three might be a magic number, but to me, it seems lazy. Symmetry takes more effort.

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