Try 1x for free
1x is a curated photo gallery where every image have been handpicked for their high quality. With a membership, you can take part in the curation process and also try uploading your own best photos and see if they are good enough to make it all the way.
Right now you get one month for free when signing up for a PRO account. You can cancel anytime without being charged.
Try for free   No thanks
The Gift of Photography

By editor Wicher Bos
Published the 27th of November 2020

With the festive season approaching when we give each other presents, I suddenly had to think about the gift of Photography. How special it actually is.


'Ephemeral Blue' by Delphine Devos


There are many things in our societies that were impossible without photography, but I had to think about a specific gift… Maybe it's because my wife is an Ikebana (Japanese Flower Art) teacher, she spends hours sometime more, to create a piece of art, and in less than a week it is gone, decay took over… if we didn't have photography it would be impossible to remember what it looked like... During my search for Ikebana photography, I came across the work of photographer and film-maker Sharon Lockhart. Her project No-No Ikebana is an example of deciduous art, I read…

What did it mean? Not being a native English speaker, I had no idea. With the help of online dictionaries, I read:  Deciduous means lasting only for a short time - not permanent - transitory… for example falling off or shed at a particular season, stage of growth, as leaves, horns, or teeth. Another word that came to mind is Ephemeral it also means lasting only for a short time, or Caducity - the quality of being transitory or perishable most used in situation of mental health problems. I think I got it, all meant was short-lived…

Photography allows us to capture ‘short-lived art’ and enjoy it years later. The art itself has disappeared. Sharon made this her challenge, she created The No-No Ikebana series of works. A series of nineteen photographs over 31 days divided among four groupings portrays the life cycle of a NO-no Ikebana arrangement of Brussels sprouts. A radical form of the Japanese art of Ikebana flower arranging, in which fruits and vegetables are selected directly from the farm and the life cycle of the arrangement is highly considered. The images of the Brussels sprouts highlight the passage of time and the process of decay, allowing nature to create its own aesthetic gesture against the minimal background.


NO-no Ikebana, 2003, arranged by Haruko Takeichi by Sharon Lockhard (1964)


 With this project I mind, I started exploring’s wealth of images to see if there were photos that show us art which would be deciduous in the same sense. I expected the range of examples is to be endless, as every flower or food photographer can tell you… decay is a big factor to consider. Their subjects usually disappear through decay.

In my search I used Keywords like: Deciduous - Caducity – and Short-lived all didn’t give me any returns… Finally, I tried Ephemeral and got returns, 8 to be exact… however it is a fine selection exemplifying the broad spectrum of this phenomenon… one these you see above in the introduction, the other seven are:


'Ephemeral Beauty' by Shihya Kowatari



'Ephemeral way' by Mickael Lootens  - which has a tutorial explaining it as well



'Ephemeral Meeting' by Delphine Devos



'Ephemeral barrier' by Mario Mencacci



'Ephemeral desert' by Marco Barone



'Ephemeral waves...' by Thierry Dufour



'Ephemeral Beauty' by Piet Flour

All eight of them depict beautiful moments and subjects that last only for a moment, because time (felt through light-conditions, erosion, distance, etc) catches up with them…

Next, I tried the keyword Ikebana it yielded almost 30 returns… I picked a few to show you… the first one by Olga seems Ikebana made with a wink...


'ikebana' by Olga Mest


More traditional Ikebana pictures are made by Christophe.


'Iris Pallida' by Christophe Verot



'Syringa Vulgaris' by Christophe Verot



'Crateagus' by Christophe Verot

and by Saskia Dingemans


'Frozen in Spring' by Saskia Dingemans


But despite all this beauty perhaps only one or two of all these photos really show us Decay as a subject in the way Sharon Lockhart did…

So, let’s try keyword Decay – at least it gave a large number of returns… I counted at least 300 images… A small sample you find below...


'Acquaintance' by Marc Apers



'Under the blurry sky...' by Bill Peppas



'Urban Stairs.......' by Wim Schuurmans



'Soul catcher' by Ester Margraff



n/t by Nurten Öztürk



'Bad times for poets' by Marcos Gali



'Only sand remains' by Leszek Bujnowski


Then suddenly… it became clear… almost any photo subject is short-lived… a spring blossom, an autumn forest, a photo of a volcano eruption, or even a portrait….

Once that thought landed you begin to see how huge the impact of photography is on our way of remembering… For centuries it was impossible to capture slices of time or a piece of visual art that would just survive for a moment like a dance, flower or food art, and perhaps most impactful to see a portrait of a loved one that passed away; today we dig into our family album and at least see the person that once was…

Photography is a huge gift to mankind…




most wonderful approach of photography indeed; compliments to the site, author, team, and participants
Very interesting article about deciduous, decay... and the gift of photography. I enjoyed it.
Thank you Fransisco!