Backman’s Blooms: Photographer Pivots during Pandemic to Find Bright Spots of Color in Neighbor’s Yards

EDITOR’S NOTE:  What’s a photographer to do when access to your “usual” subjects is restricted?  You start shooting in your own backyard, and your neighbor’s backyards.  That’s exactly what Pioneer photographer Don Backman did last year when the pandemic closures set in.  And he discovered another wonderful world.  We will “revisit” Backman’s Blooms with a daily flower photo (or two.)  So, we’ll watch our community blossom as we move through the seasons. We will also include some information about “what’s blooming?” and encourage our readers to share their photos of seasonal flowers.  The bursting blooms this year even more represent the transformation and rebirth of Spring!  Enjoy!

By Don Backman

Photos by Don Backman

Last year, when schools closed and after the Spring Break fiasco which led to so much being closed down here on the coast, I was at a loss for places to take photos. My favorite style is some sort of landscape and sunsets. However, Barview park and jetty accesses were closed, and pretty much all beach access was closed, too.

Being stuck to the local area, I decided to get out my macro lens and really learn how to shoot flowers where they were growing. Many professional flower photos are taken indoors, where there is no wind, and the lighting and backdrops can be carefully arranged. I wanted to go to where they were growing, use the existing light, and take photos there.  This meant contending with crowded backgrounds, other plants nearby, inconsistent light, and flowers moving in the breeze.  Even the gentlest breeze is problematic for macro photographers due to the narrow plane of focus and depth of field.   Not all these photos are taken with the macro lens, but the majority are.

Last spring, in cities around the world (and where they were allowed to based on their countries quarantine rules), photographers whose businesses were shut down often went down their streets offering to take a professional outdoor photo of their neighbors, from a distance, of course, and then emailing copies to those neighbors, for free, as part of their COVID Quarantine Projects. That didn’t seem to be workable in my area, so, I started my own COVID Spring Project, which involved posting a photo a day just to lighten up peoples day.

This grew, and eventually I was visiting neighbors lawns and flower gardens to find subjects. Remarkably, everyone gave their permission. These photos went to my personal Facebook and Flickr pages. As a way of remembering the Spring, what we all went though, and the sacrifices people are still making, sharing these photos again seems like a good way to brighten up Facebook feeds. So, this spring I am posting many of those images, interspersed with images from this year, and sharing them across all of Tillamook County through the Tillamook County Pioneer.

Hopefully, you will find some that you enjoy.

For more of Don’s photos – see his website