Clive Nichols, who is already hailed ‘Britain’s Best Garden Photographer’ (by Photo Plus the Canon magazine), is now extending his claims to fame into greeting cards. He has built up an abundant photo library of over 90,000 images of gardens and flowers he has taken all over the world and also written and photographed two books in association with the Royal Horticultural Society on how to photograph gardens and flowers – ‘Photographing Plants & Gardens’ and ‘The Art of Flower & Garden Photography’. On the eve of Woodmansterne’s launch of a greeting card collection that centres around Clive’s garden photography, PG digs deep into the fertile mind of this horticultural photographer maestro.
What is crucial when photographing gardens? “The key is to get into gardens very early in the morning, usually around dawn, when the light is at its best. We call this the ‘golden hour’ and again in the evening just before sunset.”
Why do you think our gardens have such a special place in our lives? “The UK is famous all over the world for its gardens – places like Great Dixter and Sissinghurst Castle in Kent are iconic gardens that are almost timeless and we many people dream of creating mini versions of these magical places. Gardening is one of the UK’s favourite pastimes and people have gardened their plots for centuries, creating a rich history of gardening.”
What was your journey to becoming a specialist in gardens? “When I graduated from Reading University with a degree in Human Geography in the 1980’s I thought I wanted to become a chef. I worked my way up to head chef in an Italian restaurant before realising that what I really wanted to do was travel and record the places I visited on camera. So overnight I became a travel photojournalist, visiting and writing about places such as Malta, Hong Kong and The Falkland Islands. Soon though I realised that there were many magazines in England covering gardens and not many photographers were working in the genre so I switched to becoming a garden and flower photographer and have not looked back since.”
What attracted you to be working with Woodmansterne on the range? “They are the very best at what they do – an iconic family run company with the highest standards of production and design.”
Are you a card sender? “Yes! I hate ecards and prefer the real thing. I usually send out a landscape National Trust card as I love landscape nearly as much as I do gardens and flowers!”
Next Monday (19 August) sees Woodmansterne launch the inaugural collection of Clive’s work which forms part of its photographic portfolio. The designs are a mixture of atmospheric garden and wooden shots as well as some close ups of floral blooms.
Commenting, Lee Keeper, creative director of Woodmansterne remembers meeting Clive soon after he joined the company. “I was introduced to his full, sensational body of work. I was fascinated by Clive’s use of natural light which was echoed in the fact the meeting had to run to a tight schedule as he was off to shoot a garden nearby at a certain time of day to capture it in all its brilliance. It’s been a joy to see the care and attention he applies to his craft and ensure that this is translated fully onto the card range we are now publishing.”
Top: Clive Nichols has been hailed as ‘Britain’s Best Garden Photographer’.