“The Digital Edward Weston” was the first thought that crossed my mind as I looked through Anna Agoston’s work. But I soon realized it wasn’t mimicry—in fact, it was a modern ode to the beautiful simplicity and intricacy his work first showed us.
Agoston’s macro close-ups of living plants reveal an intricate world the human eye is only privy to with a lens. She brings us the beauty of the natural world with stunning detail. The dark backgrounds isolate her living subjects to reveal a world of divine design and the pure beauty of mother earth.
Agoston was born in France to an American father who switched careers from a chemical engineering to become a German expressionist artist, and a mother (from New Zealand), who was an amateur photographer and midwife. Agoston grew up in Paris surrounded and enriched by her creative parents, and early on was exposed to artists from all disciplines.
Photography wasn’t her first attempt at creative expression (nor her first career path: doctor; architect). She tried her hand at painting, but found that the camera enabled her to express her feelings more powerfully. Photography gave her a longer lasting satisfaction than any other form of art.
Her work gravitated toward living plants. She found plants to be a rich subject because of the diversity in textures and complexity in forms. What she discovered through these small living organisms was an immense world of form, symmetry, and beauty.
“I think of my work as being more two-dimensional sculpture than photography. My work is focused on volumes and textures. The series is formally consistent: same format and dark background. This creates a spectrum that makes it possible to shift from, and compare, one image to another.”
Agoston captures all of her images in parks and gardens, shooting nothing in the studio. She makes hundreds of frames for each subject. Sometimes, she will even return the next day to shoot hundreds more until she is satisfied.
Agoston’s decisive moment exists in a long meditation, allowing her to stay in the present and witness the beauty of the natural world unfolding. She feels her impulse to click the shutter when the wind isn’t blowing and her hands aren’t shaking—that is when she is able to set the plane of focus on the details she feels are most important.
“What also compels me is the satisfaction of being able to say precisely what I am feeling. I took a picture of a gingko biloba leaf because I loved the simplicity in form, the shape, and the way it hung from the branch. I felt grace and sensuality and needed to convey that. I felt satisfied when I was able to express this with a picture,” she says.
What Agoston has done is created a body of work showcasing some living organisms in a dramatic and sensual way. Her photographs bring out the beauty of the natural world, and capture, as she says, a feeling she wants to share with her audience. Her work is more than macrophotography—it is a striking but calming meditation on beauty in the surrounding world.
—Adam T. Crawford
Adam T. Crawford is a seasoned photographer & journalist and has been a staff editor at various magazines in the United States. Adam’s current role is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Precise Moment magazine, an online photography magazine with long-form articles that contextualize the modern landscape and philosophy of photography.