“Setting the lighting, making micro adjustments, props and pins gave me a sense of balance when the outside world seemed out of control.” —Kari Herer, artist


interview NANCY GORDON

Photographer Kari Herer.
Photo: Ben Christman
Dark Botanical series.
Bright Botanical series.

Tell us about yourself and when you began your photography career.

I first started making a living at photography when I quit my job as a designer at a greeting card company in Kennebunk. At that time, I had been doing most of the photography as their marketing designer and wanted to pursue it full time.

Any words of wisdom from your early career that have stayed with you?

One summer I was doing an art residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana. We were putting on a show for the public and I was walking by a sweeping janitor (who had been there for years). Shaking his head, he said, “Everybody thinks they are a f’ing artist” and went on sweeping. I laughed because it’s true. Everybody is an artist and everybody has something to say; it’s your job as an artist to find what it is you have to say.

What draws you to botanicals as subjects?

There are so many reasons why I use botanicals in my work—size, availability, seasonality, cost, sensibility—but mostly I’m attracted to the short life cycle of flowers. It’s not just the bloom, but more the point where the flower has reached its peak and begins to wilt. This is when rich textures begin to show up and colors become saturated.

Favorite flowers?

I’m mostly attracted to flowers with large blooms like the peony, garden rose, magnolia, poppy and dahlia. I’m also attracted to foliage, especially fern and sea kelp.



Your work has so many similar aspects, like lighting and backgrounds. Can you choose three pieces and tell us what you were trying to achieve with the lighting and backgrounds of each?

Above are examples of lighting to showcase the “gesture” of the flower. In this recent series, during lockdown I was exploring the lines and curves, the subtle turns and gestures within the stillness of these flowers as a way of expressing intimacy when intimacy wasn’t possible. Setting the lighting, making micro adjustments, props and pins gave me a sense of balance when the outside world seemed out of control. It was a way to discover movement, however small, in the stillness. It was my attempt to create something beautiful for beauty’s sake.

You’ve had an Etsy shop for years. Have you found it successful?

Etsy launched my career and gave me the opportunity to quickly get my images in front of a world audience. I have sold over 6,000 images around the globe and have been in stores such as Restoration Hardware, Ikea and Anthropologie because of it.

What do you hope to give people with your art?

This is a tough question! I hope viewers get to take a pause and look at something beautiful. By really focusing on parts of the plants using lighting and composition, I hope to catch the viewers’ attention. I want to show beauty for beauty’s sake. For me that might not mean a perfect bright blossom at the height of a flower’s life, but instead seeing in the beauty its imperfections and flaws.
Etsy shop

. . .

Favorite …
Guilty pleasure?
White sweaters and cake. I love cake!

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