An Interview with Botanical Photographer Janneke Luursema
Janneke Luursema’s wistful musings on lifestyle and plants have garnered her a 109k following on Instagram, as her contemplative observations seem to have struck a chord with a new generation of plant-lovers and hygge aficionados. From seemingly quiet, private moments with a succulent to more staged, aspirational houseplant arrangements, her images convey a sense of peace that can only be achieved by bringing nature into a home. Below, GC speaks with Luursema about her process, her design aesthetics, and what drew her to the botanical world as a subject of focus.
GC: What is your background and how did you get into the design world?
JL: A few years after I got my masters degree in Psychology I went to Art School to study photography. By the time I graduated I was pregnant with my second child, and I decided to stay home to care for my family and develop my photography skills. As an artist, I’m exploring the world of plants, the concept of home, and the intimacy of still life, making quiet observations.
GC: What drew you to plant material as a subject?
JL: I’m fascinated by the botanical world. It’s a cliché, but nothing beats Nature. Plants are living works of art. In my work, I express my love and fascination for them.
GC: What is your process for composing a photograph?
JL: I’m drawn to interiors and the way people express their individuality in their homes. That combined with my love for the botanical has resulted in houseplants being a main focus in my work.
“Plants are living works of art.”
GC: How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
JL: I especially like plants with character– plants that have lived for years, that show signs of the conditions they were in. Odd shapes; grown towards the light; strange plants. I like to keep it simple, so their natural beauty can shine. Therefore, I don’t do a lot of styling– I let elements of coincidence work with me. I like the images to look causal, or seemingly casual. As for the pots, the old terra cotta ones are favorite, but also a lot of vintage pots. Those colors, textures, and shapes are nice to combine with the colors, textures, and shapes of the plants. I use pots with a history, and pots that are handmade. Personality, character, and the beauty of the individual are all important considerations.
GC: Where do you find inspiration and what inspires you?
JL: I find inspiration everywhere. In thrift stores, museums, botanical gardens… I like to talk long walks through the city (I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands), especially when the night falls but people haven’t yet closed the curtains. I love to peek inside their homes. I find inspiration in people’s behavior, in the way they shape their environments to express their individuality, and in the poetry of the mundane. Instagram is also a huge inspiration!
GC: Do you need a special atmosphere to stage and create?
JL: Yes, I need stillness to create; I need to be alone. Can’t have somebody talking to me– no music, either.
GC: What work are you most proud of today?
JL: I don’t feel proud of my work. At times, I experience moments of satisfaction, but they don’t last, and I have to continue the process.
GC: What are your upcoming projects?
JL: Gardening; I have an allotment with a tiny house on it. It needs a lot of care, and I want to make something of it, like a Japanese-style garden (that’s my current dream). Moss, ferns, pebbles… that’s a huge project, enough to keep me busy for the coming years, I guess. And I want to try Ikebana, freestyle, to quiet the mind (and because I really like flowers, too).
GC: One last simple question: What’s your favorite plant or flower?
JL: That’s subject to change, because I love them all, I love them together in a gang. But my current crush are ferns. Before it was cacti and succulents, the monstera deliciosa, the ficus elastica… and anything variegated. What I love most is making combinations of foliage, colors, textures, shapes– I also have a crush on bromeliads and begonias!