Up Close

It takes time to get close, to people and to flowers.  You have to pay attention, using all your senses, in order to really see.  Sometimes the prickly spines are the first things you notice, and you move away.  But then you are likely to miss the beauty and the unique qualities only visible when you get up close…nose to nose.

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.
Georgia O’Keeffe

Whenever I get my macro lens out, I think of Georgia O’Keeffe and her flowers.  I love the way she captured the inner beauty of flowers rather than the view most people see.  My camera helps me do that.  You may notice that I have a tendency to photograph the same thing over and over again.  I notice it…a fascination that keeps bringing me back to a particular subject.  It was definitely like that with dandelions.  (When I searched my blog for dandelions, I came up with 6 posts!)

In the past few weeks it’s been prickly pear cactus that keeps catching my eye.  Prickly pears are common in these parts.  And mostly they are ordinary flat round green pads with sharp spines. Some people like to deface them by carving their initials in them, scarring the plant for a very long time.  And right now, they are in bloom, sporting beautiful yellow and pinkish blossoms and they’re beautiful!

prickly pear yellow blossom

So each time I see a prickly pear blooming, I find myself capturing a new photo.  I watched a bee dive headfirst into a bloom over the weekend…and seem to disappear deep inside.  I noticed yellow and pink blossoms on the same plant.

prickly pear and torrey

And then I got up close.  Using my macro I leaned in close and got to know this magnificent plant in new ways.

blossom with spines

Each angle revealing something new.

pink prickly pear blossom

I looked from the outside in,

outside looking inand from the inside out.

inside the cactus blossom

And even this dried up blossom, well past its prime, displays the hints of past glory in its dignified demise.

dying blossom

Getting up close to the prickly pear reminds me of my students in the springtime.  They are blooming too.  And I’ve had all year to get up close, beyond the spines, and get to know them and support them as learners and people.  And I wonder if nobody really sees them either…they are so small, as Georgia O’Keeffe points out.  And the abilities of children are often underestimated.  It takes time to get up close and really see each student as a complex, beautiful, unique individual who will bloom on her/his own timeline.  Luckily, I get that chance in my classroom, even without my camera!

9 thoughts on “Up Close

  1. blkdrama

    Georgia would have been proud, Kim. You had me with you when you began with her inspiration and that’s probably why I am not focused enough on “the small”. I have to dust off my macro lens more. I have a photo workshop coming up and yes, I promised I will follow your inspiration. What fantastic images 🙂 Might make a great challenge back at the iA!

    1. kd0602 Post author

      Thanks Bonnie. I love my macro…but it takes a lot of work and deep breathing to get good shots…and they are totally worth the effort. Can’t wait to see what you do with your macro lens!


    1. kd0602 Post author

      Thank you! Yes…that is what I love about photography, the invitation to slow down and look closely. Thanks for visiting my blog.



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