Poppy Composition

Composed Poppy

 Poppy Composition © 2011 Bo Mackison

Seeing requires a return to the time before you had words, concepts, and definitions for everything.
~ David Hockney

The above quotation is more relevant to this photograph than it might initially appear. When I began to work with the RAW photo files of this flower, I knew its name. Poppy. And its color. A peachy-pink. Earlier this year I photographed a patch of poppies in a private Milwaukee garden and I’ve posted several of the finished photographs on this blog. I worked with composition in the first set of poppy photographs and I portrayed the flowers as one might see them in a garden setting.

With this photograph I also played with composition – half of the poppy isn’t even in the frame. I left it to everyone’s imagination to fill in the rest. We often need to only see a part to recognize the whole, and we know that this softly focused shape is, indeed, a flower.

The poppy is shown half hidden, focused in a soft haze. the main colors of the photo are complementary, colors that the human eye recognizes as working together, or harmonizing.

While I was subconsciously aware of these elements, I didn’t plan any of them. I did the photograph by feel, by experimentation. I wanted to capture the feel of the flowers, what I saw when I photographed them. No, I did not see this exact rendition of the poppy — partially hidden, softly focused. But I did capture how I “saw”this flower — the emotion of the flower, the experience of the flower.

I had difficulty when it came time to title this photograph. I got only as far as the obvious — Poppy. But I came to a quick stop when I tried to name the feeling that I had depicted in the poppy. Words, concepts, definitions — I had none.

Do you see the poppy and think of it in words or concepts, perhaps a description or an emotion? I would love to know if this poppy speaks to you. Share, if you wish, in the comments.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Bo spent a thrillingly — is that a word? — exciting evening creating this poppy photograph. What a grand experience it was, the feeling of capturing in a photo what she saw when she saw the poppy in the garden.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Each perception is so personal, connected in so many ways. You are clearly having a wonderful, deep connection to this flower with a very personal experience. How beautiful to know a single flower holds that for you.

    • It is quite amazing — how many times I have taken one of the many photos I have of these particular poppies, and shaped it into one of my “visions” of the poppies. It has become quite a challenge for me, for I no longer do a quick sharpening and contrast change and send these special photographs out into the world.

      This one took me hours, as if I was lovingly creating it from an illusion. Sounds crazy, maybe, but that is how it seemed to me. Quite an experience…

  2. I like it very much that you photographed the scene as you felt it. Isn’t that exactly the gift that a photographer gives to those who sees her photos?

  3. The vision takes you image from a “picture” to art. Beautiful composition and feel. Great observations in you commentary.

  4. Thank you Gandalf. I am glad you like the new poppy. It’s a rather ethereal flower.

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