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Rachel Warne

Tulips For The Home and Garden

Rachel Warne: A Passion for photography
We have been thrilled to work with London based photographer, Rachel Warne for images we commissioned for our new website. Flowers and nature have always been an important part of her life and she fondly remembers growing up around her granddad's allotment with a childhood spent exploring her family's farm. Those early influences have inspired her work as a photographer and Rachel now enjoys a career specialising in botanical and outdoor living photography. We were very excited to discover that she has collaborated with author Jane Eastoe on a book exploring the beauty of tulips. We spoke to Rachel to find out more...

Tell us about your journey with photography

My journey in photography has been wild and amazing. Starting as a eager assistant in London for eight years, working in all fields from fashion to advertising; travelling the world and working in the strangest of places from the Arctic Circle, photographing a seal on an iceberg to having cream tea with Moira Shearer. However, botanical photography had always been in my soul the driving force. This passion started all the way back on my folk's flower farm, using a black cloth, shooting on black and white film and harvesting whatever cut flowers we grew. The defining moment, however, was a few years later with a chance encounter on the central line with the Editor of Gardens Illustrated. This turned my life around and propelled me into the editorial world of garden photography leading me on to shoot and work with many great garden designers, writers, gardens and legends such as Beth Chatto. With over eight books now and some awards under my belt, I consider myself a lucky and privileged lady to have been let into these worlds to record their splendor.
Tulips: beautiful varieties for home and garden
It’s clear that you have an appreciation for nature and a passion for flowers. Where does that come from

After practically growing out of my grandad’s London allotment and having a horticulturally trained mother (who use to take me to her gardens after school) together with living on a flower farm, my appreciation for nature was installed in me from a very young age. Horticulture and particularly flowers, has always been a huge part of my life and surrounded my upbringing. Before moving to the Fens I lived opposite Higham’s Park Lake, where I spent my formative years adventuring and running wild around the forest. Still to this day I know every inch of that forest and the best places to find frogs! But by far my greatest horticultural achievement winning the 'Tallest Sunflower Growing' competition at eight years of age, it was over 8 ft. tall!
An exploration of colour celebrating the beauty of tulips
Exquisite details captured with beautiful photography
How did the book come about?

I got the call! The fine ladies at Pavilion books wanted me to shoot the next book in a series on plant profiles. The Peonies, Dahlias and antique rose books had been very well received and as Tulips were more broadly grown in Europe, it made sense to have a European based photographer. I jumped at this unique chance, it was like coming home. I’d dreamt of shooting a plant species book for many years.

What do you find appealing about tulips?

Tulips are both enigmatic and enchanting to me. With the diversity of colour from subtle pinks to fiery oranges and the varieties with all their different shapes and sizes. What makes them appealing to me, as a photographer, is all the different stages of growth. From coy, tight heads waiting to burst open to the opening folds that twist and fall, particularly found in the Parrot tulips. It’s when you see their textures through the lens they really come alive - almost alien-like.
From a series of images created for McQueens Flower School
How was the experience working on the book?

It was a hugely valuable experience in that it taught me nature waits for no one! I have also gained a new appreciation for all tulip growers who have had to manage this rapidly changing development of the tulip, each and every season. We had to act fast and be a well organised team as there is a fairly small window to shoot tulips at their peak. It’s about a three week season and to shoot in the field it came down to about 10 days with an eye-opening trip to Holland too. What with the Beast from the East, hale, the crazy plus 20 degree sunny days we had last spring the tulips had it tough. We rose to the challenge and captured some amazing stems, such a joy to shoot. These fragile but stoic flowers in the face of adversity came through. Coping with climate change is hard as their growing patterns are disrupted by these extremes, but they do seem to find a way. A huge credit is due to the dedicated and passionate growers of these bulbs, who enable us to continue enjoying them.

Why do you think flowers are so important?

Flowers have enchanted us forever and bring so much joy, we are in awe of them. They are clever little things with endless wonder they represent so much to so many different people. Flowers have been present and influenced most of my life so what’s not to love! My fascination with them has enabled me to forge a career out of photographing them. They are part of my family, which is one of the most important things.
From a series of images created for McQueens Flower School
What are your plans for the future?

More books! Ultimately I want to expand and broaden my collaborations and find likeminded people within the industry. I’m particularly keen to push my personal work within the botanical and outdoor living world. I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with people, such as floral installation artist Rebecca Louise Law as we both share a fascination with the beauty of decay and have similar backgrounds. It’s really important to stay true to yourself and your style and these kinds of collaborations really honour that. I had a great experience working with McQueens it was a dream job capturing the visual splendour of the work they produce!

Click here to discover more about the book

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