Behind the Camera with Francis Ooi


Blurring the lines between photography and illustration, Singapore-based photographer Francis Ooi’s botanical portraits first came about due to a very specific need-- a living room update. In late 2011, Ooi took a critical look at his living space and concluded it was time for a refresh. As luck would have it, his home is located near one of Singapore’s most renowned nature preserves, Bukit Timah, where he enjoys an occasional run. Turning to the lush beauty of this unmarred landscape amidst Singapore’s bustling urban environment, he packed up his camera and took to the forest. In the preserve, native species like those pictured above caught his eye; he slowed his pace and began capturing his favorite specimens in crisp, digital photos inspired by 18th-century botanical illustrations. The resulting images offered a contemporary freshness-- perfect, as it happened, for displaying above his living room sofa.  

A simple home décor update quickly became a botanical obsession for Ooi, who continues to hunt for interesting specimens and capture them on film, bringing the outdoors in with immaculate photographs of flowers and plants that highlight nature’s intricacy and beauty through simple composition. Ooi’s botanical portraits are now sold worldwide, each signed and number by the artist and printed using a combination of savvy photo editing and matte paper to create the illustration-like quality that reflects his interest in the botanical art of the past. 

Image courtesy of Francis Ooi.

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