By Josh Deakin
The State of Maine conceals many talented artists within its borders. Among these artists is Lynn Karlin, a photographer who’s made a name for herself photographing for publications such as the New York Times Magazine, House Beautiful and Country Living. In the early 80s, she left her metropolitan photography for the rural atmosphere that Maine has to offer.
“For eight years we grew vegetables and flowers for inns and restaurants in the Blue Hill and Deer Isle area and I added garden photography to my resume,” said Karlin. Since being in Maine, she has also co-authored three books on gardens as well as farmed her own land.
For Karlin, photography has been a part of her life since childhood. After a photography course in high school, she became infatuated with the art and would go on to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York for Advertising and Photography.
“After graduation, I moved to Manhattan and carried my heavy portfolio around to magazines by day and waitressed at night. I got small assignments from New York Magazine and worked my way up to shoot feature stories,” Karlin explained.
In 1975, Karlin became the first woman staff photographer for Women’s Wear Daily and W. “Having no experience, I was expected to catch on fast, shooting everything from fashion shows to celebrity interviews to late-night parties and even President Carter’s inauguration,” said Karlin.
Since being in the Belfast area, Karlin has explored garden photography by frequenting local farmers’ markets and farm stands in the area.
“Often when shopping, I can visualize the finished arrangement in my head and choose the produce I need for that still-life, and other times I just buy what looks either beautiful or quirky. When I get back to my studio, I lay my ‘finds’ out on the harvest table until an idea comes to me. I often like to find subjects analogous in color or one strong, stunning vegetable that can stand alone,” said Karlin.
The move from New York to Maine provided Karlin with the motivation to photograph produce. “I was inspired after reading a book on Charles Jones, a 19th century English amateur photographer. He became obsessive documenting vegetables, fruit and flowers and would bring his subjects to his studio rather than photograph them in nature. He made very simple arrangements in [black and white] that captured their essence,” explained Karlin.
Jones’ ideas stuck with Karlin and during a trip to the Belfast Farmers’ Market, she was able to put this inspiration to use after spying a large purple cauliflower, bringing it home and placing the vegetable on a pedestal. “I began a quest to honor even the humblest vegetables by elevating them to a place where they belong: on a pedestal. These portraits in The Pedestal Series often feature a single species isolated to retain the simplicity of the subject while highlighting the complexity of its sculptural form. I work to capture the unique character of these-overlooked plants. This led to my collecting dozens of pedestals which I find at antique shops and yard sales. Through the years I added fruit, flowers and fungi as my subjects,” elaborated Karlin.
Karlin’s work can be viewed on her website and are available in three limited edition sizes of prints. These prints can be ordered through Karlin or by contacting the galleries and shops on her website at www.lynnkarlinphoto.com. Her work has appeared in collections all over the world and has been shown in exhibitions and in magazines across North America, Europe and parts of Asia, even being awarded at the Prix de la Photographie Paris as well as the Tokyo International Foto Awards. You can also see her work on display at the United Farmers’ Market in Belfast, and see her vegetable portraits in “Harvest Season,” an up-coming group exhibit at Cove Street Arts in Portland, August 26 – Oct. 30. An opening reception will take place Thursday, August 26 from 5-7 p.m.
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