Fashion Photographer David Sims Celebrates Imperfect Roses In Classic Book

David Sims’ Roses was originally produced as a series of individual art work aimed at exploring the depth and imperfections of the world’s most iconic flower: the rose. The fashion photographer’s stunning images, which flawlessly captured the wilt and shadow of a selection of beautifully-lit roses, was later collected into a book that Visionaire published in 2003.

Now more than a decade after it’s publication, David Sims’ Roses continues to impress with its unconventional approach to floral photography. Just as with people, a flower’s imperfections are often the source of its real beauty, and Roses celebrates this iconography up close and personal in a manner that continues to impress gardeners and fashion aesthetes alike.

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Roses was inspired by the native English roses Sims used to see on his walk to school as a child, and the curiosity and attention to detail within every photograph in Roses makes Sims’ deep-seeded fascination apparent. As an adult, Sims made a name for himself as an early photographer for the British trend zine i-D magazine, but he is now best known for his work at Harper’s Bazaar, where he often portrays the industry’s leading models in an unconventional way: he captures the models’ beauty by focusing on their imperfections.

With Roses, Sims takes the same approach to flowers as he famously does with people: he highlights their natural flaws in order to tease out what makes them so special. (There’s also an element of sentimentality: Sims returned to his own primary school to photograph the roses on grounds as they wilted.) Picture-perfect roses are impressive, but Sims’ slightly deformed, be-spotted roses are captivating because they look so regal in their natural state. His roses appear as nature intended them to look: imperfect, but majestic and alive.


As Sims says of his inspiration for the book, which is now an iconic collector’s item:

“The fragile and temporal qualities of flowers are well used as a visual metaphor for youth. But when I look at these roses close up and trace their own knocks and dents, I find a greater beauty and a complexity in their imperfections. The roses represent for me a very definite point in life and a state of mind.”

At Garden Collage, we think Roses is a great visual metaphor for Spring. A blossoming rose may still have a connotation of youthful, sensual delight, but David Sims’ photography reminds us to keep our eyes open for beauty in the unexpected– a beauty that exists because of imperfections, in people and gardens alike.

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