Samuel Zeller: “Botanical”

· 21.November.2015

Samuel Zeller is a photographer and designer from Geneva in Switzerland. His first camera was the Fujifilm X100, after that came the X-E1 and finally the X-T1. Samuel contacted us wanted to share this series of images taken with the X-T1 and the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens.

What is photography for me / How I started this series?
Photography is a personal way to express myself that I have acquired over time, almost by necessity. I have had this need to express my emotions through different channels (than language) since a young age (I started drawing early for example). I found that I almost always create strong images when going through strong emotional states.


I have started this ‘series’ in March. I was on my way home after a hard day at work. I took the train and I got off a station before my usual one. I needed some fresh air and time to calm down so I went to the Botanical Gardens. I became aware of the environment that was surrounding me such as the light going through the greenhouse. Focusing on this, I was finally able to clear my mind and relax. However, it was only by the time I got home and saw the photographs I just took that I realized their true potential. This made me want to continue this series and complete my work.

Where were the images taken?

This series of images has been created at the ‘Conservatoire’ and ‘Jardin Botanique’ of Geneva in Switzerland. The architectural structure that can be seen in the series is from 1913. A part of the palmtree collection (the biggest in Switzerland in term of number of species) resides in this particular greenhouse.

What was the idea behind the series?

“Botanical” is a modern photographic reinterpretation of the classical botanical illustrations produced between the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Reality is refracted by the greenhouse’s ground glass and reminds me of the paper used in watercolour paintings. The colors are subtle and sophisticated, they mirror the tones found in this kind of illustrations. The whole idea was to reproduce preserved nature in the style of botanical illustrations.


What do you want the series to convey?

My series reflects the heritage of an architectural period and the years of botanical research and combines these two subjects in one. The green-house, in which the subject of this photographic series resides,  is a controlled environment that aims to protect exotic plants by creating better climate conditions than the local weather, it’s also a beautiful creation of metal and glass, dedicated, refined, elegant (just like the plants inside). The structure itself becomes a frame in some images.By using digital photography techniques, I wanted to pay a tribute to botanical illustrators and reproduce hand drawn illustrations as they were done in the 18th century.


How important was colour for the series?

The choice of colors is important to me. I have used a soft and light contrasting finish. I have tried my best to approach the rendering of a painting. I was inspired by impressionist artists (mostly Gustave Caillebotte, Auguste Renoir and Monet) and the way they had depicted intangible subjects such as light and reflections. There is also a reference to Japonism (an influence among the impressionists) with the removal of depth and perspective.


You can visit and enjoy the full “Botanical” gallery on Samuel’s website at www.samuelzeller.ch/botanical.

Thanks so much for sharing your work with the FujiLove readers, Samuel!