What Trader Joe’s Taught Me About a Plum Blossom Photo

comments 26
Floral Photography / Inspiration / Photography


February 2019. My back yard and my computer. Every year there are plum blossoms in my yard. Every year — in homage to Japanese art — I photograph them, searching for The One. Over the past few weeks, many gigabytes died on this search.

This blossom? That one? One blossom? Many? High-key? Low-key? Simple background? Mottled background? High contrast? Low contrast? Saturated? Muted? On and on and on and on. . .

Images fell like so many petals.

And then a couple weeks ago while running errands on a Saturday afternoon I got caught up in a story on the radio about the unconventional success of Trader Joe’s. Turns out that one of the many reasons for their success is that while they may seem to offer a lot of choice, they don’t. Too much choice leads to indecision and that leads to no sale. Hmmmm. . .

Back to the blossoms. KISS. Keep it simple, Scandling. All the rain we’ve been having means there are no perfect specimens. Get over it. But every single image in past years has been horizontal and this very-good-but-not-perfect one is vertical. Good. Tradition is over-rated. Everything else just fell into place.

And there you are.

(Nikon D500. Tamron 100-400 F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2. Final editing in Photoshop.)

More fine-art photography: www.amagaphoto.com

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. Perfect can sometimes look faked and sterile. These blossoms are absolutely beautiful, I love the color, and usually don’t even care for pink at all. And the simple black background looks…well, perfect! 🙂


  2. Carolle-Ann Mochernuk, says

    The blossoms do look like rare china carvings. Really very Japanese!! Thank you. CA


  3. I like that you presented a whole sprig of blossoms. Together they painted a perfect picture. I feel a haiku budding.


  4. Are these this year’s blossoms? Our plum tree in Wyoming waited a bit closer to summer. The sharp detail brings their beauty into focus. I once heard a speech — about 20 ears ago — by an architect who noted that limited resources open the door to creativity (I’m paraphrasing).


  5. Pingback: 2019.03.06: harmony | Longing For Water

  6. Funny how changing up can make a big difference. Portrait of a plum blossom in portrait mode. It’s a lovely bloom and as for the ant, it is my philosophy regarding the clone or healing brush tool that if it can move away naturally then we can remove it in post. Better than disturbing a fellow creature. At any rate, you’ve got a winner here.

    Yeah, Trader Joe’s. Good store but…they irritate me the way they are constantly moving stuff around, at least at our store. Nothing is ever where it was last week. I know they do that to get us to see other things that we might buy, but it is a pain trying to find which aisle something resides in this week.


    • I completely agree. I do at least one shot every year. It’s a ritual. Every single other shot was horizontal with a branch with a cluster of blossoms making a graceful curve from high on one side to low on the other. I had a fixed idea that that is just how it has to be. Days and days of pounding rain made it so that there was not one single perfect specimen. If you look at the floral work on my website you’ll see that I will idealize a flower and to some degree make it an abstraction. Hence my search for an ideal specimen. But in this case, there just wasn’t any such thing. This was as close as I can find and it was proudly, resolutely vertical. Deal with it, Mike. In the end it resulted in a mental cobwebectomy, which worked out very well for me.

      There are two Trader Joe’s in my area. Both, for whatever reason, tend to keep things where they are. The Freakenomics transcript that I linked is fascinating, however. Give it a read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am not sure about running the country, but they do run a good business. I knew someone who worked there once and he said, at least in the local store, they try to keep hours below what would require benefits. I am not sure if that is true but the employees all seem happy and eager to do their jobs. Everyone appears to change their responsibilities, sometime stocking shelves, some times cashiering, and sometimes handing out the tasting samples.


      • I like your floral images a lot, I’ve tried abstracts but my mind doesn’t work in that direction too easily.


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