Janice Lipton is not a professional photographer. She’s a woman who finds solace in flowers and greenery, and she allows this fondness to guide her in photographing flowers and publishing compilations of her images. Her books June, July, August and September are filled with stunning visuals of blooms, mostly from Colorado. Each image is paired with a corresponding inspirational quote to complete the viewer’s full experience. More on the life threatening illness and the lifelong love that inspired Lipton through her journey, plus a gallery full of flora.
How long have you been taking photographs? It’s always been a hobby of mine, and I’ve always had a passion for flowers. It wasn’t until about four years ago when I was in Colorado and would send e-mails to my friends with pictures of flowers, saying, “Isn’t this gorgeous!” Everyone’s response was always the same: “You should publish them.” I had so many people saying the same thing to me. So, I decided at the end of the summer, I would publish this book. I did it, not knowing how hard it was and how much time it would take, but it was so fabulous and rewarding. Of course, after one book came out, all I remember hearing was, “When are you going to do your next book?” It took me three years, but that’s when Septembercame out. This was, of course, more challenging than June, July, August because I didn’t want any duplication of flowers. I had to look at flowers with a different eye for the second book and dig a little deeper to find flowers that were prettier and better.
Are the flowers in September also from Colorado? Ninety percent of them are from Colorado. To shoot the orchids, I went to the New York Botanical Garden for the orchid show. What was also fabulous about September was that I was able to get there at peak week when the leaves were changing from regular to dead. It only snowed one day, and I was there that one day. That’s when I got the pictures of the red leaves and the frost on the leaves and the frost surrounding the flowers. It was amazing! It was one of the highlights of my life.
When in your life did you start noticing and taking interest in flowers? I grew up in Los Angeles, and I’ve always had a passion for flowers, whether it’s wallpaper with flowers on it or flowers themselves. I’ll be somewhere and see a flower growing out of the dirt and say to someone, “Look at that gorgeous flower!” And, they’ll say, “How did you even see that?” It’s almost like I have a divine sense for it. I had a calling to do this book. When I did book number one, it was almost like I was possessed. I’d take a picture and look at it and I wouldn’t love the way it looked. So, I’d go back and take it or wait until the sun was a little farther over the hill so that the lighting would be better. Then, the next summer when I went back, it wasn’t inside of me. It was the first time that I understood what a writer feels with writer’s block. You just can’t go take pictures and say, “I’m going to make a book.” It has to come from within.
How did you choose the quotes? Every quote from the book matches every flower. It was very challenging, and I did a lot of research. I have particular authors that I love. I wanted to have all types of inspiration, whether it be spiritual or metaphoric or more pedestrian. Whatever way, I wanted to contact people.
What feedback have you received from the books? Every day, I get an e-mail or a text from someone saying, “I saw this rose and it made me think of you.” I got an e-mail today from a person who said, “I have an aunt who is dying and I gave her your book. She says it’s really helping her.” I got another one from a woman that says, “I’m going through a really trying time in my life and your book is giving me the strength to go through.” Every day, people are telling me how my book has changed their life. It blows my mind. I’m just a regular girl who decided to follow a dream and do this, and I’ve changed people’s lives. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling. I’m a philanthropist at heart, and this is just another way that I’ve been able to touch the world.
Does that mean you’re going to put out another one? I’m working on it. I want to do the next one on tree trunks. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed or if you’ve lived anywhere or gone and seen great trees, but when you walk up to a tree, there’s a life in them. Sometimes, in between the crevices of a tree trunk, there will be a plant growing. There will be a moth with a pearlized finish or little bugs living inside. I’ve already started working on it. It’s a process of learning how to do it properly. I am an amateur photographer, so, I’ve just started thinking about where in the country I’m going to visit. I’d like to go to the state of Washington to take pictures of the sequoias.
In the book jacket for September, you mention that a life-threatening illness guided you in putting this book out. When book number one came out, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had to have brain surgery. Part of why the new book took three years to do was because I had to emotionally recuperate. When you face a life-threatening situation like I did, you look at life a little differently. I have a different way to see how flowers bloom now and a new appreciation for life.
What do you grow in your own flower garden? Mainly orchids, but I have a smelling garden with all types of flowers. I have another wall that I have covered with all hibiscus.
What are your favorite flowers to receive as a gift? That’s a touchy one. It’s probably not a particular flower as much as the combination. It’s the art of putting the flowers together. What you put with a hydrangea, what you put with lilies, what you put with orchids make the visual appearance. I’m all about the visual. A dozen roses doesn’t cut it.
Where are your go-to places? In Miami, I like Il Gabbiano. You sit outside there and you’re right on the water. At La Piaggia you feel like you’re in St. Tropez, because all of the tables are on the sand. I love Mr. Chow and taking the boat to Fisher Island. In Aspen, I like Matsuhisa and Il Molino.
More on Janice Lipton at www.janicelipton.com.