Debi Shapiro’s Beauty in Bloom

New York-based floral photographer Debi Shapiro speaks with Purist about creative vigor, and the intersection of meditation and nature.

By Jenna Lebovits

PURIST: Your debut collection of work, Beauty in Bloom, captures the vibrance and depth of more than 200 flowers in impressive detail. What was this process like for you?

It has been a dream come true. When I was approached by my publisher, I didn’t know how much work goes into the making of a book. It was a labor of love and It’s a great honor to have a book of my own with over 200 of my favorite floral portraits out in the world for everyone to enjoy. 

PURIST: How did growing up in New York affect your vision as a photographer?

I find New York to be magical from a visual perspective. Inspiration is everywhere from Central Park in the spring, the many museums, art galleries, brilliant architecture, and of course there’s always Park Avenue covered in tulips as far as the eye can see. I was introduced to the NYC Flower Market while working with a fashion photographer right after college. What an extraordinary experience. If you’ve ever been to the NYC Flower Market, you would agree when I say that the abundance of beauty was overwhelming. To be surrounded by so many inspiring, beautiful blooms is heavenly. This was the start of my floral love affair.

PURIST: Have you always had an interest in visual art?

I studied textile design, fashion photography and fine art in college. The fashion world has greatly influenced my work. Each floral portrait has her own unique personality.

PURIST: How do you go about creating images that have such an ethereal, painterly quality?

I use only natural light to create my floral portraits, which gives them a painterly quality. Time passes watching the flowers’ subtle movements as the light travels over them. Shooting on a black background allows the viewer to focus on the flower with no distractions. Attention is paid to every detail from the lighting, composition, placement of the foliage and the angle of the flower to achieve my signature look. 

PURIST: These works seem to have a meditative quality to them. Would you say there is a connection between meditation and floral photography?  

I do find shooting flowers a form of meditation. It is my mindful moment with nature. I allow myself to slow down and take the time to really be one with the flower, patiently watching as she slowly unfolds her petals. Time stands still.

PURIST: What is it that you aim to express through your work?                                       

Every flower is unique and its beauty fleeting. My artistic vision is to capture and preserve that moment to enjoy forever.  

PURIST: Do you have a favorite flower?

It’s almost impossible to choose one, but poppies would be at the top of my list. I’m fascinated by their metamorphosis. They start out as a green hairy stem and pod that explodes into a beautiful ballgown of delicate papery petals. Beauty personified!

PURIST: Where do you source creative inspiration from?

I find the great botanical artists and engravers of the 17th and 18th centuries, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mary Delaney, and William Morris have always inspired me. But the North Fork of Long Island, providing its endless beauty, sparks my creativity with wide-open spaces, fields of flowers, vineyards and farmlands. I am truly grateful to be able to live here.

PURIST: What lessons can we learn from flowers?

Science shows that not only do flowers make us happier, but they also have strong positive effects on our emotional well-being. Nature can change your mood and ease stress. Surrounding yourself with flowers is a reminder to take time to experience their beauty from bud to delicate decay.  

PURIST: Anything else you’d like to share?

Beauty in Bloom is the perfect gift. You don’t have to have a green thumb. Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local bookshop or my website.; IG @debishapirophotography