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Get Behind the Lens with Photographer Stacy Bass in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – Stacy Bass is an award-winning fine art, landscape and interiors photographer. Her work graces the walls of many private and corporate collections and has been featured in many local and national publications, including Greenwich Magazine , athome , House Beautiful and Consumer Reports .

Her new book, In the Garden , is a vibrant, intimate view into the hidden oases of American gardens, strewn with images of climbing ivy, secretive hemlock and explosions of color blossoming on every page.

Saturday, June 16, from 1 to 3 p.m., Bass will be at Westport’s newest exurban retreat, Terrain , to sign copies of her book and enjoy a reception with her fans. In advance of this event, Bass graciously agreed to discuss her work, inspiration and process with me.

MEAGHAN MORELLI: With such an extensive and varied background, how did you decide to turn your lens on gardens and landscapes?

STACY BASS: In many ways, only by happenstance. One very cold winter when I was stuck indoors, I started shooting the flower arrangements that my husband (happily) tended to send me and found that I was very drawn to composing a beautiful image from the amazing form, shape, line and color that the flowers provided. I sent one such image to an art director who had expressed interest in hiring me one day and perhaps because the picture was of flowers. When a garden assignment came along, she thought of me.

MM: Do you have a favorite time of day to shoot? Is there a time where the light feels just right?

SB: For me, the light feels just right shortly after dawn. I typically arrive at a location about 20 minutes before sunrise to get the lay of the land and start shooting right away.  Early morning is definitely my favorite but very late daylight is spectacular and very compelling, too.

MM: I've read you have a passion for capturing the "essence" of a place. How do you do that?

SB: Good question and not the easiest one to answer, either. I think what that means to me is that I try to create a series of images in a story, if you will, that will convey to a reader or viewer what it really felt like to be in that garden or place; to evoke a certain emotion or reaction that is as close to the one I felt while actually there.

MM: What inspired the new book?

SB: I am an avid collector of art, photography and coffee table books and have always wanted to do a book of my own. At some point the last few years, the number of people who asked if I had a book seemed to be increasing to the point that I started to believe that there was a real audience that would enjoy it. That, coupled with the fact that I had more than a critical mass of content—having photographed 60-plus gardens—really gave me the impetus to pursue it.

MM: Do you have a favorite photograph--yours or someone else's?

SB: I don’t have a favorite photograph of my own. (That’s akin to favoring a child!) And I guess I don’t have a favorite photograph of someone else’s either, though I do admire and love most of the images taken by a number of photographers: Ernst Haas , Irving Penn and Ralph Gibson —for different reasons but primarily because of their masterful ability to frame an image and their poetic use of color. And Jay Maisel . And William Waldron . And Simon Upton . And Stephen Wilkes . Shall I go on?

MM: In your view, what can photographs convey that words cannot?

SB: Immediate understanding.  I think the right words, selected by the right person, can convey the depth of emotion and clarity of description that a photograph can.  But, you may not have the benefit of the right words, every time.  I think photographs help us all to communicate- even at great distances- in that an image can, in a single instant, convey so much.  You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words."

Hear what Stacy Bass and her photographs have to say this Saturday, June 16 at 1 p.m. at Terrain, 561 Post Road East in Westport.

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