These Floral Photos Look Like Paintings

Creative cats have many lives. And so it is with Niña Williams, whose career began at age 9 when she won a Halloween window-painting contest at an art store in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. Since then, her art history has included T-shirt logo design and handbag creations in New York City sweatshops,  and three decades as a design editor for magazines such as House & Garden, Country Living, and Country Living Gardener. Now in “retirement,” Williams’ latest work combines her love of flowers and portraiture with her eagle eye for beauty in a series of photographs. Her first show, Primavera, was on display at Bloom by Anuschka in Cherry Creek through May 2016.

In our lives and perhaps even on our iPhones, we’ve seen many a captured flower—from the garden selfie to the pedestrian postcard to the painted petals of Georgia O’Keeffe. But Williams’ photographs feel like paintings. They burst with emotional power and speak to the fragile and ephemeral nature of life.

Dutch Sweet Peas

“These photos were taken with an eye that they were paintings, and that’s what I wanted them to feel like,” says Williams, a petite, blue-eyed powerhouse who studied a plethora of printing options before she came upon the right combination of pigment-based ink and fine art paper to create the depth and saturation necessary to evoke a still life. “I love the still image because you capture that moment in time,” she says.

"Color is really music to my eyes, and photographing flowers is
an endless concert." — Niña Williams

The images are plucked from a library of 37,000 photographs she has taken throughout her life—some from yesterday, some from 20 years ago. “I look for the power of the image, the one that jumps out and speaks to me,” she says. “And when I go through them I ask myself, ‘Is there poetry in the image?’”

Siren Tulip

As a teenager, Williams lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, spending her weekends joyously exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art and reading books. She studied art, design, and architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and was hoping to attend art school upon graduation, but real-world financial pressures pushed her in the direction of a paycheck. She eventually gravitated to publishing, where she spent her career traveling about to find and style the country’s beautiful homes and gardens.

A portrait of the artist as a young woman. Photo by Katy Tartakoff

“My life was like one big, long scouting shot,” she says. The visual knowledge gained from decades of working with renowned photographers such as Horst P. Horst has informed her focus and enabled Williams to channel a trove of experience into her own lens.

“I look at life as a series of images,” she says. “I have a huge emotional need to express what I’ve seen.”

For more information, contact the artist at

Categories: Stylemakers