Anthony Bogucki Photographs Beautiful Flowers with a Hasselblad 500C/M

All images by Anthony Bogucki. Used with permission.

My name is Anthony Bogucki. I’m 22 years old and I am a strobist photographer from the Greater Detroit area. I had always felt photography was about capturing a moment. As soon as I started experimenting with off-camera lighting, my perception of photography suddenly shifted to being about creating a moment. Flash photography has given me greater freedom in materializing the vision I see in my mind by allowing me more granular control over my final image. There’s no need to be chasing that golden hour light when you can create your own. I have done a large photo series on flowers but recently have branched off into portraits and other still subjects. I was drawn to floral subjects because I think they enforce the idea of creating a moment, flowers are frequently picked and taken out of their environment to be experienced on their own in another.

My goal was to isolate the flowers from their environment like picking would but to preserve their moment in time in a way picking cannot. My photos are not taken in a studio, I rely on the principles of photography to get the image I envision.

I capture my images with a Hasselblad 500C/M from the mid 1970’s and am most frequently using my 120mm f4 lens. I shoot, develop, and scan my own film at home and have recently begun using my camera for digital work with the addition of a Leaf digital back. My film of choice is Kodak TMax 100 for black and white and Kodak Portra 160 for color. Shooting film is important to me even in the age of digital photography. So much of what I love about photography lies in its principle. There are physical reasons your images turn out the way they do and understanding them allows you to control them. Which, in turn allows you to create moments as you envision and want them to be. Film just adds to that experience, it adds a whole other level of intention to your work. I even go as far as to make my own black and white developing chemicals from scratch. I want my photos to be a reflection of my choices and the skills I chose to pursue.

For lighting I am using older Nikon SB-26/8s and Pocket Wizard Plus IIs for remote triggering. I use speedlight adapters to allow me to use bowens mount light modifiers with my flashes. Since my camera is completely manual I don’t have a need for the latest and greatest, this not only allows me to get great deals on used equipment but also forces me to focus on the principle I want to achieve, not the gear. The leaf shutter in the Hasselblad lenses is the star of the show though, being able to sync your flash at speeds up to 1/500th of a second is still impressive today, let alone nearly 50 years ago.

I purchased a used Leaf digital back in order to have more flexibility when working with clients professionally. It was really important to me that I could make the switch to digital without changing my camera. It is the same slow, meticulous approach of film but with a digital result. It certainly isn’t for everyone but the limitations push me to try new things and expand as a photographer.

I do very little to my work in post-production be it film or digital. After scanning my film, I adjust levels, color balance, and do dust removal in photoshop. I treat digital images the same minus the dust removal. I don’t have to do much work to my photos because I’ve put so much forethought into the end result before an image has even been captured. I believe the quote is: “One minute spent planning saves ten in execution”, something I think all photographers who utilize off-camera lighting can relate to.

I am a very passionate and goal-oriented person. I really set out to understand the things I want to achieve and how to best accomplish those goals. For a diptych I did of a peony, once I had picked a bulb to create the first photograph of, it became a habit of mine to check on the status of the bulb the first thing in the morning for days until the flower was in the perfect state of bloom. My patience was rewarded with a ladybug crossing the petals as the exposure took place which gave the photo a new dimension as an interaction separated from it’s environment and context. Capturing the photo digitally would’ve been an accomplishment but nothing compares to pulling the reel out of the developing tank and holding those negatives up to the light to see the image you imagined right there in your hands. Knowing that at any moment I could ruin the photo that’s stored in the film really forced me to completely understand the concepts I was using. It’s that feeling of accomplishment when the image turned out successful that made me realize the value of the process and perfecting it.

I eventually would like the series to carry on and evolve into a series on endangered native orchid species within the United States. Orchids are the most diverse group of flowering plants on the planet. There are over 200 species alone in the United States and many are facing habitat loss due to urbanization. Being an Eagle Scout, I have spent a lot of time hiking out in the woods and is still something I frequently do. I have books on when native orchid species bloom and where they can be found and fully intend on creating lasting imagery of these elusive flowers to bring awareness to the beauty we are overlooking.

I’m young so one of the things I most look forward to is when I can look back on the work I’m making now and not only be able to see but feel the progress I’ve made since then. I think it’s really important to stay inspired and find things that move you to innovate. Having off-camera lighting as a tool in your arsenal really widens the possibilities of how you can choose to act on those inspirations.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.