Artistry blossoms: Westporter's new photo book showcases exquisite gardens
Westporter Stacy Bass has what many of us might call "a good eye" for design -- both indoors and out.
During the last several years, this noted fine-art and magazine photographer has built a coterie of followers with her keen sensitivity for architecture and the landscape that surrounds it.
Now, Bass has finally realized "a dream," focusing her camera lens on 18 of the region's most stunning private properties -- and the result is "In the Garden" (Melcher, $50). The 224-page hardcover coffee-table book, which will be debuted at public book signings later this month and at bookstores in May, is divided into 18 chapters -- each featuring one garden accompanied by an essay from New York journalist Suzanne Gannon. A variety of garden types -- from untamed meadows to formal English-style designs -- are included. The book is dedicated to her husband, Howard Bass, and four children.
"Happy and proud" is how Bass, laughing, describes her current state. "The book represents the high points of my photography ... and it always makes me smile" when eyeing a copy. "Just as an object, I love that I made this beautiful thing."
All the gardens are in Connecticut, including ones in Fairfield, Westport and Greenwich. Each was selected by Bass because they are among the favorite gardens that she previously photographed.
Born in New York and raised in Westport, Bass gravitated to photography in college, graduating with a political science/photojournalism degree from Barnard College at Columbia University. After graduation, she attended the Maine Photographic Workshops, studying with such masters Jay Maisel, Joe Baraban and William Albert Allard.
Bass said she was "emboldened by the experience," and despite knowing that making a living in photography is no easy task, she embraced the field with a passion, presenting first solo exhibition in 1988.
More InformationBASS ON TOUR A listing of Bass' book signing and speaking events is posted on her website: www.stacybassphotography.com. Here is a sampling of some of her public events: New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, N.Y., 20th anniversary Antique Garden Furniture Show & Sale, April 28, noon to 2 p.m. Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Road, April 29, 2 p.m. New Canaan Beautification League at the New Canaan Library, 151 Main St., May 2, 9 a.m. Archivia Books, which specializes in books on architecture, art, design, decorative arts, gardens and interiors, 993 Lexington Avenue, N.Y., with reception, May 3, 6 to 8 p.m. Dovecote, 56 Post Road East, Westport, with reception, May 9, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Garden Education Center of Greenwich, 130 Bible Street, Cos Cob, May 15, 10 a.m. "Photographer @ The Library Presentation" program at the New York Public Library, 455 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, July 19 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
But the realities of life intruded, and Bass headed for New York University's School of Law, focusing on copyright, trademark and art law -- and subsequently used her legal training to become vice president of Savoy Pictures Entertainment, a publicly traded motion picture and television company (working there until the company was purchased by Barry Diller's USA Networks).
In 2004, when her youngest child was entering kindergarten, Bass said she realized "it was time to reinvigorate my passion for photography and perhaps this time transform that passion into a viable and thriving career."
It was purely by luck that Bass would come to find her niche in garden photography.
In the introduction to her book, Bass writes:
"A link to my newly launched website found its way to the in-box of a (most) talented art director, Amy Vischio, and in time, she offered me an assignment -- to photograph the landscape and gardens at a beautiful and stately home, high on a hill, overlooking the Long Island Sound."
The experience left her "transfixed and wanting more."
From the get-go, Bass said she has been fascinated with capturing light, color and the "essence of a place or moment" in each photo she takes, shooting almost entirely with natural light, often shortly after sunrise.
In this way, she attempts to capture a distinctly "lit-from-within" aesthetic.
Bass said she is excited about going on tour with the book, which she hopes will appeal to photography buffs, interior/exterior designers, landscape designers and garden historians.
"And lets hope gardeners, too, will be inspired by it," she added, laughing.
In the book material, New Yorker Suzanne Gannon is described as an award-winning journalist who covers interior design and gardens, culture, food, wine, fashion, antiques and luxury and soft-adventure travel. Her work has appeared in such publications as Town & Country, The New York Times, the Financial Times, Art & Antiques, The Wall Street Journal, Interior Design, AtHome, Coastal Living, Delta Sky/NWA World Traveler, Preservation and Newsday. She has been a guest on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and has worked as a stringer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. This is her first book.