A moment of withering beauty caught in an instant and revealed forever in expansive detail.
Isamu Sawa’s striking macro photographic images of dying flowers are proof that the art
of master photographic craftsmanship is,in fact, not dead. While technological advances in digital
photography - not to mention the ubiquitous smartphone - have arguably devalued the work
of professional photographers around the world, Sawa’s new series confirms that technical
brilliance, years of experience and a great eye still count.
Sawa first plucked a discarded flower from his florist wife’s studio intending to embark on a
technical exercise. He used a process called focus stacking, taking up to 25 close-up or macro
images with graduating depths of field and then combined them with complicated software to
produce a single image in crisp, uniform focus. With encouragement from a friend he enlarged a
single colour print and was immediately aware he had produced something special.
“I was blown away. The flower looked so beautiful – the texture, the detail, the subtle palette
of colours. It was something I’d never seen before.”
Macro photography has long-intrigued us, providing a view of nature that is dazzling for its
intricate, sometimes strangely alien-looking detail. Sawa’s treatment of these withering flowers –
just days or weeks after they featured in wedding ceremonies around the country – make them
even more breathtaking and special. It is a slow, painstaking and complex process. But then,
when the images are blown up to their vast scale, there is the reward. The viewer is invited to drink
in every withering detail; a confronting dichotomy of death and life; fading beauty fixed on paper.
“These are precious images,” says Sawa, “I’ve rescued these flowers so in a way I feel like I’ve
given them another life.”
Now collectors have a rare opportunity to allow these symbols of love and commitment to live
on, if not forever, at least in their hearts and minds for many years to come. A limited number of prints
are available of each of the 10 flowers, as well as the 10 original flowers that Sawa photographed
framed and preserved behind glass.
Born in Japan and raised in Australia, Isamu Sawa has been a commercial photographer for
more than 20 years. With a reputation for technical ability and a keen eye for composition he has
worked for a host of commercial and editorial clients, including Holden, Mercedes Benz, Subaru,
Domaine Chandon, Jack Daniel’s, Penfolds, GQ, The Age Melbourne Magazine and Vogue.
He has also photographed well-known identities including fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier,
actor Geoffrey Rush and former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
He has exhibited photographic work with his father, Peter Sawa, at the Joshua McClelland Print
Room (“Two Generations – Two Views”, opened by Kate Gollings, in 1999) and at group shows at
The Compound Interest (“The Material Series – Foto @ Pin Up”, in 2013 and 2014).
Known to friends simply as ‘Issey’ he lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Basia and their
baby daughter, Hannah Rose.