Firstly, in the light of recent events (*more on that later on), I’d like to start by saying that I was given permission to photograph the pink poppies.
Anyone who follows my work might know that 2019 is my fifth year of photographing Dorset’s pink poppy fields. I do love photographing both pink and red poppies, inasmuch as there’s something so magical about a poppy field.
It’s not just the look of them, but the fact that you never know where a field of these beautiful flowers is going to pop up. Also, when they do appear they are so transitory.
Pink poppies are always grown as a crop, but red poppies are actually considered a weed. Neither flower in the same place each year; pink poppies due to crop rotation, and red poppies because they they need disturbed ground in order to germinate. In fact, due to modern agricultural methods red poppy fields aren’t anywhere near as common as they once were.
In contrast to previous years, 2018’s pink poppy crop were not opium poppies, but were grown for food. This year? Well I’m not sure whether they’re opium poppies or not, because I’ve been given conflicting information.
Certainly this year’s poppies somehow seem pinker than in 2018, but does that make them opium poppies? Who knows! All I do know is that the pink poppies are magnificent this year, since all the rain we’ve had has made them tall and strong.
These Dorset pink poppies really are an amazing site.
* This year I’ve been horrified by the behaviour and huge sense of entitlement of large numbers of people with cameras and phones. In their clamour to photograph the pink poppies, many have shown a complete disregard for the fact that the flowers are growing on private land.
Yesterday (25th June) I happened to drive past two of the pink poppy fields that can be seen from a main road. Despite new notices on the gates from the landowner stating the fields are private, they were awash with people. It was as if a tourist bus had deposited a load of unruly passengers who’d climbed over the gates and then proceeded to stand around in groups, chatting and taking photos amongst the flowers.
The problem has been exacerbated by numerous photos being posted on social media purely for ‘Likes’. Locations have been given to others by anyone who asks, causing even more people to go to the fields. Further, some people have pretended that their photos were taken from the road, when I know they most certainly weren’t.
As someone who has sought permission to photograph the poppies, who also has public liability insurance and who keeps the locations confidential, the selfishness and lack of consideration for the landowner’s crops has appalled me.
I would remind anyone reading this that the pink poppies are NOT a tourist attraction, they are someone’s property and their livelihood. Photograph them from the roadside if you’d like to, but you are not entitled to actually go into the fields.