Leaves come in a myriad of colors and shapes, dyeing landscapes in vibrant hues throughout the year. However, their individual beauty is often overlooked. Photographer Brett Foxwell, also known as bfophoto, has dedicated a fair share of his projects to these humble plant components. For his video The Book of Leaves, he collected and shot 12,000 leaves of all kinds to create a mesmerizing stop-motion animation that seamlessly presents the lifespan of various foliage and the similarities that all of them share.
To make his case when showcasing leaves of all colors and at different stages of life, Foxwell opted to light each leaf from the front and back against a black backdrop. The sequences evoke the feeling of going from season to season for a handful of years. The most amazing part is that it all started with a single maple leaf, which the photographer picked off the ground, hoping to take a photo and pressing it afterwards.
“I conceived that the leaf shape [of] every single plant type I could find would fit somewhere into a continuous animated sequence of leaves if that sequence were expansive enough,” he shares. If he found a gap in the sequence, it meant that he had to gather more leaves. “There was such a stunningly diverse compendium of forms, shapes, and textures to be found that it began to seem as though there were an underlying visual vocabulary I could scarcely grasp.”
This isn't the first video of his that approaches the diversity of plants, as his projects LeafPresser and Woodswimmer also feature the gradual differences in nature to tell a story. Nevertheless, The Book of Leaves does so in an almost stripped manner that puts the spotlight on something that often goes unnoticed. It's as if he’s reminding the world of how truly important and beautiful leaves are through his visual language. Foxwell says, “The result is hauntingly beautiful imagery that is both abstract and unquestionably real.”