Toward the end of August 2019 I wanted to make a bouquet to pay symbolic tribute to my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota.
I was inspired by three gorgeous red rudbeckia flowers that were blooming at the time, one of the many variations of color that you’ll find in the “Sahara” variety. It was after I had already decided to contrast red and burgundy flowers with pure white flowers that I realized I was working with the school colors of Central Lakes College, from whence I’d graduated just 3 months prior. Turns out the colors were very fitting for a bouquet inspired by my hometown.
I made the bouquet on the small side, so it would look natural in an everyday setting, almost like an accessory to a well-executed outfit.
I met up with my friends Brooke and David, who I’d met at the very college that inspired the bouquet. I have Brooke model for my photos often and David is a photographer himself, so we had a lot of fun working on this impromptu shoot (all of the photos you see here are my own unless otherwise noted, but you can check out David’s work here).
We started in the Coco Moon coffee shop, a favorite hangout for Brainerd residents of all ages. I’ve been going there for coffee and comraderie for years, so it felt quintessentially “Brainerd” to me. Since it was toward the end of the day we had the place more or less to ourselves to mess around in. The staff were very gracious about us shooting there.
We then took leave of Coco Moon and walked down the block to The Crossing Arts Alliance’s community mural. This awesome mural was painted by artist Tony Powers in collaboration with the community back in 2018. The Crossing Arts Alliance provides a place for local artists to sell and exhibit their work, and provides arts education for all ages, particularly for the youth of our community. I’ve been donating floral arrangements to decorate their art gallery for a couple years now, so I am very familiar with the amazing work they do.
It was a lot of fun shooting in front of this colorful wall. I wasn’t sure at first if it would clash with a floral bouquet, but I think the graphic, whimsical look of the high-color-contrast bouquet was actually complemented by the bright colors behind it. On our way to lunch we popped behind the building and David took some photos on the stairs.
About this time the stars of the bouquet, the rudbeckia, began to wilt and refused to perk back up again. I had picked them during the heat of the day because they’d caught my eye, instead of during the cool morning or evening hours when I normally harvest flowers (especially for real weddings!). My suspicion is that’s what did them in. The bouquet still looked decent overall, so we kept snapping photos.
Since the bouquet featured the Central Lakes College colors so prominently, we decided to take some photos there, too. In front of the building is a little garden that the horticulture students work on every year, and we caught some golden hour rays by the pond for the final images.
Even though CLC has an amazing horticulture program and even offers a floral design class, I never got to be involved because all of my credits were devoted to my business degree. While I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be in those programs, I’ve learned so much about growing flowers and floral design from experience, the internet, and the help of my flowery compatriots, that I am more than content with my formal education being more business-focused as I really enjoyed that program and found it immensely helpful for my own business.
All in all, we had a great time taking some really fun photos and hanging out in good old Brainerd.