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Tulip Mania: Photographing People Photographing Flowers

Woman in blue jeans photographing flowers at the Keukenhof

Photographing flowers and undwear at the Keukenhof

Photographing People, Photographing flowers. An ugly, and probably mildly tasteless set of images, where I photograph people photographing flowers, and often show off their backsides along the way. Images made on April 2011 at the Keukenhof tulip show at Lisse, Netherlands.

I was visiting what claims to be world’s largest flower garden with my mother and girlfriend – playing tourist. Camera out, not expecting masterpieces, perhaps to intercept some interesting scene. I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the crowds, dressed in multi-coloured outfits to celebrate the seven million tulips planted in the Keukenhof each spring. Neither was I prepared to be caught in the digital camera crossfire as visitors took thousand upon thousand of snapshots of flowerbeds, or themselves with tulips, destined for imprisonment on a hard disk somewhere, or perhaps an appearance their Facebook profile. There seemed to be a relentless drive to capture endless, context-less images of the too-perfect, uniform, and altogether not very natural domestic tulips. I have never, ever, seen a field of wildflowers being trampled by hundreds of hassled, stressed tourists searching for the perfect souvenir shot. And perhaps I never will.

I forgot about shooting ‘straight’ images, and instead started shooting like a street photographer. Despite the vegetation, the Keukenhof, on a Sunday in April, is a very urban environment. I photographed people photographing each other, photographing flowers, showing off their blue-jeaned, boxer-shorted backsides as they snapped images. I stole images of their solemnity, their stress and the kitsch hell of it all. My few hours at the Keukenhof put me in mind of the original Tulip Mania bubble in the 17th century. IT got so crazy that one Dutch Viceroy tulip bulbs could apparently fetch 2,500 Florins, at a time when when a skilled labourer might only make 150 Florins in an entire year.

There’s more of the Keukenhof madness in the slideshow below, or view the gallery.

People, Photographing Flowers – Keukenof Tulip Show – Images by Dave Walsh

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