We knew things were getting festive on the Loves stream when Meadham Kirchhoff swept the board with their gaudy Christmas knit a fortnight ago, but as the big day gets closer, things are taking a more poetic turn. Top of the pile this week are these stunning magnified photographs of snowflakes, chosen by Head of PR at A Number of Names* Annoushka Giltsoff.
The images are part of a long term project undertaken by the American photographer Wilson Bentley, who perfected a process of catching snowflakes on black velvet, and shooting them before they melted away or sublimated. Photographing his first snowflake in 1885, Bentley would go on to capture more than five thousand pictures, a project that was both a representation of the passion he had for the "tiny miracles of beauty", and also an effort to discover if any two snowflakes are ever the same. As each snowflake is the result of their own, very specific, micro-climate – forming as they fall from the sky, each 'arm' growing independently of the others – scientists have concluded that it is very unlikely, but not impossible, that there could be pairs. Indeed, in all of Bentley's thousands of photographs, he never found an exact match.
"It was a project that was both a representation of the passion he had for the "tiny miracles of beauty", and also an effort to discover if any two snowflakes are ever the same."
Today, as rain pours from the sky, these staggeringly intricate images are a reminder of an infinitely more romantic and festive precipitation. Here we speak to Giltsoff about why she chose to love them, which is her favourite, and what are the Christmas traditions she's looking forward to this year.
Why did you choose to love these snowflakes?
They are totally amazing - how they are taken, when they are taken. The type of thing you could spend forever looking at and still not quite understand. There is something very exciting about them!
Where would you hang it if you owned it?
Next to one of my favourite ever Christmas presents - a print from 'George Stubbs The Anatomy of the Horse'. It was the first anatomical study of the horse since Carlo Ruini's 'Dell Anatonia et dell' Infirmita del Cavallo (1598) published over 160 years previously.
Which is your favourite shape and why?
Tricky! I really like 896. It reminds me of the snowflakes you spent hours crafting with paper and scissors aged 7.
For Christmas jumpers, what is your preferred motif - reindeer, snowflakes, stars, Father Christmas…
A tubby Father Christmas wins!
What was the first photograph you ever took?
A picture of my black cat, just about in shot. I blame the cat, not my photographic skills.
White Christmas or escape to the sun Christmas?
White Christmas in Somerset with John Hughes movies.
Do you have any family Christmas traditions?
My father roasts pheasant on Christmas Day with red cabbage and roasted celery, delicious.
Previous (more amusing) traditions include forcing my baby sister into a home made Father Christmas outfit fashioned by raiding cotton wool from the bathroom and celotaping it to various items of red clothing, her face and the dog. At 23 this has become a little more difficult.
What was the last thing you bought?
A lovely Christmas present for my lovely boyfriend which will have to be kept a secret!