C’est aux Etats-Unis, en 2000, qu’il a fait de la photographie une activité à part entière, en collaborant avec de nombreuses institutions parmi lesquelles le Planting Fields Arboretum d’Oyster Bay (exposition photographique sur les arbres centenaires de la région) et le Marie Selby Botanical Garden (exposition itinérante sur les plantes en voie d’extinction, exposée pendant 3 années consécutives en Floride). Originaire du centre de la France et désormais installé à Paris, il a beaucoup voyagé, notamment aux Caraïbes où il a découvert la beauté et la richesse du monde végétal et singulièrement celles des fascinantes fleurs tropicales.
Photographer Thomas Balay unites plant science with art. At age 16, he fell in love at first sight with tropical flowers after seeing a documentary on tropical rainforest. He felt compelled to leave his native France to see and experience in person the Carribean Islands’flora. Here he discovered the true beauty and rich diversity of the plant world, in particular, the allure of tropical flowers. His passion grew deeper with every observation made and the photographs taken of the infinite variety of the flowers’forms, colors and patterns. Seemingly limitless as they may appear, his eyes and his camera always seem to capture the “logic” in their structures’ architecture and design. Not only were the strucrures beautifully symmetrical, they were also very functional, revealing mathematical order that were also remarkably aesthetic yet logical.
He then moved to the United States to share with a wider audience the beauty he sees in plants through photographs. He was also learning to grow them. As both photographer and gardener, he collaborated with many botanical institutions to create photographic exhibits. At the Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, New York he worked on a photographic exhibit of the ancient trees in the region. At Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida he took pictures of the rare, and endangered plants in its living collections. He then developed a traveling exhibit entitled, “What if Only Photographs Remain.”
Using art, he spreads the message of conservation not just to capture and record but to share their beauty with future generations, and for the lessons we have yet to learn from observing plants. Lessons in sustainability or efficiency in design, greater resilience in modularity and redundancy, fractal geometry, or even basic examples of how form follows function, he believes, are yet to be fully understood and utilized by us humans to live in better harmony with nature. He feels compeled both as an artist and a scientist to document plant life through photographs.
Originally from central France, Thomas Balay now lives in Paris, traveling extensively for his work as a commercial photographer around the world. He, however, returns to his love of studying and photographing plants and flowers in their infinite diversity, form and beauty.