I’ve been accused a time or two of being “too honest”. Also naïve and unrealistic, perhaps too easily disappointed by others. However, this week I’m going to defend that stance. I’m AM disappointed. I AM being “too honest” and I don’t care.
I happened across a gardening blog post that left me feeling not only disappointed, but downright cheated. I’ll link to it in a minute so you can see it for yourself, but first I have to vent. The blog post is about how gardens are faked for photos. I’m not talking about tweaking the photos with computer software. I’m not talking about stuffing a few extra blossoms into the camera frame. I’m talking about creating a garden, or the illusion of one, where it DOES NOT EXIST.
Okay, okay, not a serious concern for most of you. Commercial photographers have been doing the same thing with food photos for years. I even visited a studio once and watched them put together a food layout with plastic ice and shaving cream and…well, nothing anyone would really eat. The excuse was that it took so long to take the shots and the hot lights would melt the food. I was okay with that because I knew ahead of time that magazines did it. I even thought most of it was just pretty clever. If I remember correctly, only Gourmet magazine insisted on using real food for their photos. I saw a news report that showed them preparing multiple copies of the same dish at different times, so they could take all the shots they needed. I even recall them making a dozen or so turkeys because they were looking for the best looking cooked one. They could have easily “created” one in an art studio somewhere. But they wanted their readers to believe that it was possible to recreate the same bird at home.
I suppose that’s why I’m offended by the idea of someone taking a truck load of potted plants, gravel, and a few props, and creating an “instant” garden to photograph. Or maybe I’m more offended that a magazine would find the practice acceptable and even pay someone to create a phony illusion that I can’t create at home in a real garden. As a gardener, I don’t need or expect perfection. And I do understand about trying to make things look a little better. When I take photographs of my own garden or flower beds I look for the best angle. I trim anything dead or unsightly. I’ve even gone so far as to take a blossom from one side of a plant and attach it to the other side in a better light or next to another blossom. But I’ve never passed off some clever combination of potted plants as my “garden”. I’ve never resorted to total artifice in order to impress someone.
Now I’m going to doubt every photo I see in a garden magazine. Along with that I’ll be questioning their advice. If they can’t find a real garden as an example of their expert practices, then maybe those practices don’t work! It’s discouraging. I don’t know what to do except keep gardening. At least I can still believe in real plants and real gardens.
We have fake food, fake people, fake photos, fake resumes…fake, phony, pretend…I’m tired of lies. Let’s return a little honesty to our lives. Let’s teach our children that some things must be real in order to be fulfilling. Read the blog post at Gardening Gone Wildand see for yourself. (You'll need to check the archives for "The Camera Always Lies".) Maybe it's not a big deal. Maybe fake gardens are justified by public need. Maybe I do overreact. You tell me.