London-based advertising and editorial photographer Richard Boll’s “Here For You” project features artful images of flowers reminiscent of vanitas still life paintings. Each image is carefully composed, depicting delicate, beautiful blooms that are visually interesting and imbued with meaning.
Richard’s wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, and her chemotherapy took place while coronavirus was taking hold in the UK. Unfortunately, this meant that friends could not visit during this time to provide support, so they would send flowers instead.
Our self-isolation was particularly strict due to her compromised immune system. Nevertheless, gifts of delivered flowers frequently arrived with written cards of kind messages of support. Words that often appeared that resonated with me were “here for you.”
He was inspired by the words frequently written on the cards and the flowers sent as a token of support from friends. So Richard began photographing the flowers in his home studio, using available window light.
I rarely produce still-life imagery for personal projects, leaning more towards landscape and portraiture. However, the circumstances of the lockdown and strict isolation lent itself more to still-life on this occasion.
The flowers weren’t just appealing to look at; they were tokens of affection and symbols that gave Richard and his wife the strength to carry on through this difficult time in their lives.
Having so many flowers around when we were isolated at home, and my wife was going through her treatment made a difference. The flowers were uplifting and became symbols of people’s support.
An aunt of Richard’s had sent peonies, and he thought they looked lovely when the blooms began to expand over time, lending themselves to more visually interesting compositions. Peonies have impressive flowers prized for their ornate, delicate petals and sweet-scented fragrance.
They looked nice when they arrived, but as they started to open up and change color — from pink to very subtle whites and ivory colors, I found they looked increasingly beautiful.
Peonies of various shades and colors each carry with them some symbolism as well. Like the vanitas of the 17th and 18th centuries, which often represented the transience of life, peonies are often used to express beauty, compassion, and love.
Richard’s wife received help from a charity during her treatment, so to give back, Richard has been selling prints and donating proceeds to the organization. The images also won a silver medal in the Moscow International Photography Awards and were published in Rakes Progress Magazine.
Photographer: Richard Boll