Flower power

(First published in the March 26, 2020 issue of City Pages)

A local photographer is spreading some joy and springtime hope with an image feed called The Tulip Project


Heidi Oberstadt www.heidiobersta

Heidi Oberstadt takes her stunning Tulip Project photos in a makeshift workstation on her living room coffee table

As a professional photographer, Heidi Oberstadt found herself in the same situation many people have been in over the past two weeks: sitting around her house, in this case with her one year old child, with little to do. Her work volume is dwindling, with celebrations canceled or postponed because of the state-mandated social distancing measures to quell the coronavirus pandemic. She noticed social media has been filled with nothing but doom and gloom.

Oberstadt figured her social media feed, and many others, needed some joy and color. And she happens to love tulips. Camera in hand, she got to work, and The Tulip Project was born. Every day Oberstadt posts a photo of a tulip — stark, bright colors against a pure black background. “There are so much true, but stressful things in everyone’s news feed,” says Oberstadt. “I thought a random intersection of a hopeful flower would help.”

Her photography business, Heidi Oberstadt Media (a branch of Photographic Memories by The Oberstadts) is based in Stevens Point, where she once served as a city council member. To her, tulips are a flower that symbolizes hope and spring time—something to assuage people’s anxiety.

Oberstadt says she takes photos of the tulips about three or four times daily, because they constantly change throughout the day. Her living room coffee table has become her makeshift studio, and sometimes a little hand from her one-year-old son, Teddy, will find its way into the background of one of her tulip photos.

The response to the tulip photos has been overwhelming. “Everyone loves them,” Oberstadt says. “I’m surprised. I was hoping they would reach a couple of people who needed them, but a lot of people loved seeing the tulips and they’ve been shared a lot.” 

Oberstadt created a Facebook page dedicated to The Tulip Project. Her other work can be found at Heidi Oberstadt Media.