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All Website Images 2008 Darryl Pitt

I never thought I would ever photograph flowers.  

When I was a kid, my dad made me nuts whenever our world screeched to a halt so he could take a picture of a roadside flower. For me, flowers simply got in the way and were too…flowery; they were the stuff of romance and weddings, hospitals and funerals. I remember recoiling at family outings to botanical gardens—a place of proper women and inexplicable men.

Decades later I had a change of perspective. Contact with my young daughter was much less than I desired and my best pal and client, Mike Brecker, was diagnosed with a serious illness. And so in Spring 2005 while working in Los Angeles, venturing to Death Valley seemed to suit my mood---but as a result of a record rainfall, Death Valley was blanketed with wildflowers.

There are some sights you never forget, and flowers carpeting the Death Valley landscape will forever be among them. (There were even flowers never previously seen by modern-day botanists as some seeds laid dormant for a century awaiting this rain.)

And I took a lot of pictures…a lot of really bad pictures. Mike asked me to send some and I refused—they were that bad. 

I returned to New York when Mike was to be hospitalized for his first round of chemo. Like many other cancer patients he wasn't allowed to have flowers in his room, and he again asked for a picture of a flower: "I think I'm about to enter my own death valley and I want to have it covered with flowers."  He was not a big flower guy either.  "Ohh—so we're going to play the death card now, are we?"  We both laughed.  

Biking home that evening in New York City’s Riverside Park, a flower garden I never noticed before jumped out at me. The next morning I packed a camera and stopped at the garden on the way to work. When I visited Mike late that day, I taped a picture of a flower from that garden to his wall. He was happy and asked for another. The next evening I did the same, and necessarily it had to be a better picture—which necessarily required more time in the garden. And so on. And thus began Mike's Flower of the Day.

It wasn't long before there were scores of flowers on Mike's hospital wall, and here is a sampling of those early images. I still stop at that garden today.