Bald Cypress, in training since 1972

Vaughn Bunting's bald cypress, in training since 1972. As I was working on this book, these distinctly American trees were some of the most interesting to me. Bonsai is a living, growing art form and its practitioners, by necessity, will look to use the trees around them.

In some ways, these earlier American bonsai masters' work set the groundwork for the innovative work being done by people like Ryan Neil and Michael Hagedorn.

California Juniper, in training since 1985

There was no tree at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum that spoke to me like this California Juniper. Its combination of elegant curves and wild, gnarled branches makes it one of the most remarkable bonsai I've ever seen. I've often felt that this tree is worthy of a book all on its own. 

This tree was gift to the Museum by Sze-ern Kuo.

If you're in Washington, DC this weekend, please consider attending World Bonsai Day. An exhibit of my photographs will be on display at the National Arboretum and more information about the events can be seen here: http://www.potomacbonsai.com/festival/

If you'd like to be notified when new videos + photos are posted, you can sign up using the form to the right, or follow me on TwitterInstagram and by liking the book's Facebook page. Thanks!

California Juniper bonsai, in training since 1985

California Juniper bonsai, in training since 1985

California Juniper bonsai, in training since 1985

California Juniper bonsai, in training since 1985

California Juniper bonsai, in training since 1985

In Training photo exhibit at the National Arboretum

I'm thrilled to be sharing the first exhibition of my bonsai photographs on conjunction with the release of my book.

Starting this Friday, photographs from In Training, will be on display at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

You can read the press release with more info here: https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/stephen-voss-creating-portraits-of-bonsai/

I'll also have a table at World Bonsai Day on May 13th - 15th and will be selling books and prints there. Please come by to say hi if you're there. 

More information about World Bonsai Day and all the great workshops and presentations can be seen here: http://www.potomacbonsai.com/festival/

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

This Chinese Elm, by Stanley Chinn, is one of the most outwardly expressive trees at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. Its windswept look and remarkable bark texture made it a fascinating tree to photograph. 

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

Chinese Elm, training date unknown

If you'd like to be notified when new videos + photos are posted, you can sign up using the form to the right, or follow me on TwitterInstagram and by liking the book's Facebook page. Thanks!

Bald Cypress, in training since 1987

This incredible bald cypress tree was donated to the museum in 1990 by Guy Guidry. In researching the background of these trees for the book, I came across the submission card that Guy included with the bonsai. 

I find it remarkable that this tree, which is quite large on its own, was collected from a such an enormous tree. I can only imagine the effort it took to collect and shape this tree.

Bald Cypress bonsai, in training since 1987

Bald Cypress bonsai, in training since 1987

Bald Cypress bonsai, in training since 1987

Bald Cypress bonsai, in training since 1987.

If you'd like to be notified when new videos + photos are posted, you can sign up using the form to the right, or follow me on TwitterInstagram and by liking the book's Facebook page. Thanks!

California Juniper, in training since 1964

As the book launch gets closer, I want to share some of the images that I loved, but that didn't make the final cut for the book. I've also shot videos for some of the trees which I think bring a different perspective to them. 

This beautiful juniper was created by bonsai master Harry Hirao. It was collected in southern California and transplanted into this Japanese container in 1974.

If you'd like to be notified when new videos + photos are posted, you can sign up using the form to the right, or follow me on TwitterInstagram and by liking the book's Facebook page. Thanks!

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

California Juniper, in training since 1964.

In Training is at the press!

Proof showing pages from the book, overnighted from Hong Kong.

Proof showing pages from the book, overnighted from Hong Kong.

I'm thrilled to announce that In Training has gone to print! Yesterday, we received the first proof sheet from the printers (essentially, a final print on the actual paper being used for the book). The color looked great and now they'll begin printing the rest of the books, which we should be receiving by the end of May.

The book is available for pre-order in the store today!

In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing previously unpublished photos of the trees as well as some videos that I've been working on over the last few months.  If you want to keep up to date and be the first to see the new photos, you can follow me on TwitterInstagram and by liking the book's Facebook page. Thanks!

A Brief Update

Mary Madison's beautiful buttonwood bonsai. Want to see more of these behind-the-scenes images? Follow me on Instagram.

Mary Madison's beautiful buttonwood bonsai. Want to see more of these behind-the-scenes images? Follow me on Instagram.

As most of you probably know by now, we were successful with the Kickstarter campaign and raised the necessary funds to print the book.

We're now in the very final stages of design before sending the book off to be printed. I couldn't be happier with the beautiful creation my talented friends at Polygraph have made. 

If you're interested in keeping up to date on the book's progress from here on out, please do share your email in the form above and I'll keep you in the loop. You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and by liking the book's Facebook page.

One rainy day in May

One of the biggest challenges in photographing bonsai is the light. Any hint of sun in the sky would mean very dark shadows and bright highlights far beyond what a camera can capture. So it was often a waiting game, especially on those slightly cloudy days. I'd compose my image and just watch the sky, waiting for a cloud to pass over the sun and give me beautiful, diffuse light. Often, I would only have time to make one or two photos before the clouds would pass and I'd be left deciding whether to refine that shot or to move on to another one.

On this day, it never stopped raining and the light had a beautiful, silvery quality to it that imbued the bonsai with even more of a sense of drama and grace.