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Saxon Holt, Garden Photographer Extraordinaire

Updated on July 16, 2016
Ilonagarden profile image

Ilona has gardened actively for most of her life, and been a writer and webmaster online since 1998. Homeschooled all 10 of her children.


Have You Heard of Saxon Holt or Seen His Photos?

If you are an aficionado of garden books, You may well have viewed some of the fine work of this garden photographer. He captures the gardens and plants like few others with a sensitive rendering of the genius loci in many of his photos. I've been captured by the beauty of his work, and I don't think it is small part because he views his subjects with a gardener's eye.

The curiosity of a plants detail, the mystery of a garden path, the reveling in a summer's day... these are what his photos evoke.

What DO I see?

Before you take a decent picture you have to see it

A Bit About Saxon Holt

Photographer Extraordinaire

Saxon Holt grew up in Tidewater, Virginia, and now resides in Northern California. He comes from a line of gardeners and developed an early interest in photography. Happily for the rest of us, and apparently for him, the two influences combined to give us an artist of photography who captures the beauty of plants and endeavors to expand our ideas of what makes plants and gardens beautiful.

This photo artist struggles with eyesight problems... interestingly Monet also struggled with a form of eyesight problems (not the same ones). I think this shows that we do not have to be vanquished by physical difficulty, even when it involves an important function needed by our desired endeavor. I think of athletes who excelled despite setbacks, as well. Saxon Holt recounts his detour around his eye problems in his blog, Mental Seeds.


Source: via Candice on Pinterest

He tells his story:

"When pressed I confess to being more gardener than photographer."

"...with my changed eyesight, I am exploring the flat painterly world of abstract expressionism"

"It took 4 months to grow this picture; one second in the garden to "see" it; and 8 hours of computer work to clean it up."

He maintains the Photobotanic website, which is undergoing a major upgrading at the present time.

View this book with Saxon Holt's photography, Hardy Succulents:


Become a Fine Photograhher

Use a great camera

Canon cameras are used by the best. Saxon Holt mentions his G11 camera.

Amazon Bio

Some facts and Saxon Holt Bibliography

Tips Gathered From Saxon Holt - Become a better garden photographer

  • Think about the story you want to tell and think how the camera can help you tell it.
  • Shoot your photos in soft light. Always.
  • Look for leading lines such as paths,lines, and edges which lead the viewers eye into the photo.
  • Use a tripod- Holt always depends on one.

    Canon Deluxe Tripod

  • Try many different angles to get the photo you want.
  • Seek to fill the frame, eliminate dead spots.
  • Try leaving the "tops" out of the picture to create interest and intimacy.
  • Plants in the foreground create a frame.
  • Don't be afraid to crop your photos.

I find a camera bag that holds your camera, extra batteries and extra filters is great for grab and go excursions. The best way to get great shots is to always have your camera with you.

Saxon Holt's Camera

Canon PowerShot G11 10MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Stabilized Zoom and 2.8-inch articulating LCD

Mentioned in a post.

His Latest Book, The American Meadow - Beauty of grasses and forbs

Holt collaborated with Greenlee to produce a wonderful book that interprets the American Meadow for gardeners. It is a good transition from those who have traditional lawns and gardens to those who wish to be more adventurous and conserve resources.

The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn
The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn

I loved this book, probably because the natural meadow style has such a fresh look and is harmonious with the American landscape. Its varied plants make it interesting and more environmentally friendly landscape choice than vast expanses of lawn.


Choose Good Lighting

Morning and evening, overcast or foggy atmospheric conditions render better outdoor photos. via pinterest

Grasses: Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Design
Grasses: Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Design

Everyone is trying out grasses for the texture and water saving features this plant gives a border planting. Not all of us are comfortable with how these additions to the landscape look to best advantage. This book showcases the collaborative genius of two of the best garden photographers around.


Move The Pictures - Garden Shots

Compose Your Photo Like An Artist

Interesting composition is used by artists to tell their story.
Interesting composition is used by artists to tell their story. | Source

Composition: Fill the Frame

Fill the photo frame with everything needed to tell your story- hone in on details.

Did you like Saxon Holt's photography? Enjoy this view of him? Learn new tips or find good reminders? Tell us!

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