This spring we’re releasing the second edition of Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa’s Wildflowers and Other Plants of Iowa Wetlands. Botanist Tom Rosburg provided all new photographs for the second edition, as well as some additional text. Here, he talks with Bur Oak Books series editor Holly Carver about how he became a plant photographer.
Holly: How long have you been photographing plants?
Tom: I obtained my first 35 mm SLR camera in 1977 as a graduation gift and started doing casual nature photography. In 1986, I switched to Nikon equipment and added several lenses to my gear. That’s when I started pursuing nature photography more seriously and began developing plant photography skills.
Holly: Why have plants kept your photographic attention for so long? What other subjects do you focus on?
Tom: About the same time, in 1986, I began the graduate work that eventually lead to my becoming a botanist. So plants have occupied my interest ever since I began serious photography. There are over 2,000 species of plants in Iowa, so there is a huge list of potential plant subjects to photograph. I’d like to have a photographic record of every one of them. I shoot all nature subjects—landscapes, wildlife, macro subjects as well as plants. Because plants are always available, I tend to gravitate towards them when I am out doing photography and time is limited.