SHOOTING FLOWERS started as a hobby, but Peter Arnold has an uncanny knack of turning hobbies into acclaimed and lucrative pursuits. Tulips, his first flower book, so impressed Sir Elton John he agreed to write the foreword, and Queen Beatrix of Holland hands out copies to her guests. Little wonder both Ilford and Kodak offered to exhibit the work and the book was a best-seller. Tulips appeared at the same time as Men Exposed, a volume of male nudes, both published by TeNeues.
'It is not easy to photograph the same type of flower perhaps a hundred times and make a book that is varied and interesting,' he says. 'It is essential to bring out something special about each individual flower.' That is something he is able to achieve and it is entrancing to examine both books and see how Peter exploits his developed sense of light to bring his subjects to life, be it flowers, male nudes or landscapes, the minutia of detail, luminosity and shadow creating images full of such power, beauty and simplicity it seems the very soul of his subjects are revealed
He is working on two new books, Orchids, a follow-up to Tulips, and a volume of black nudes, these parallel interests competing with Peter's afternoons in the studio painting – flowers, naturally. Painting has given him a clearer fix on his photography and photography has helped him light his paintings better. 'I have always worked within the parameters of film, light, lens and subject to get perfect results and perfect colour rendition,' he notes. 'Everyone thinks I use a 10 x 8 camera, but in fact I have been using the same Hasselblad for so long it is probably an antique now!' With studio shots Arnold usually makes do with a single light source. He uses as high an F stop as possible to get maximum sharpness and definition, in order that the images can be blown up large for exhibition work. He uses mainly Ilford Velvia for colour - high colour saturation, and Kodak Plus X for black and white, again high resolution for extra detail. He has yet, he says, to go digital.
Peter Arnold is a recent winner of the Gold Photographic Award through the prestigious Graphis company in New York and his work is showcased in the 2008 Graphis Annual.