When we were kids, my brother and I would set up a stand on the front lawn and sell the dahlias that my parents grew. The flowers were gorgeous: huge dinnerplate dahlias, the yellow ones as big as the sun, the red ones as bright as a fire engine. The plants, well-established in the rich Northwest soil, produced more flowers than you can imagine. Only the neighbors paid us any money for them (on a dead-end road the neighbors were the only ones who saw them) but we were happy enough with that. The leftover blooms came in the house and were not wasted.
Years later, when I grew my own dahlias, I began to look at them more closely and realized just how intricate they are. The flowers are naturally photogenic and are usually shot straight-on, but the sensuous curves of the petals are what struck me – especially on the back side of the flower. There I found complex curls and whorls and corkscrew petals, and after awhile the flower evolved into shapes and patterns and colors that eventually lost the “flower” label and became something else.
I am still experimenting, but I think this is where photography crosses the line into art. I could photograph dahlias as often as Monet painted his water lilies.