Under a Mushroom | Nigel Summers Photography

“There’s more to a beautiful image than that which we see on the surface.  That’s the key to arresting your audience and captivating them with a photograph that represents just a single, frozen moment in time.  Oh but what a moment when you get it right!”- Nigel Summers

Under a Mushroom

If you’re a nature lover or photography lover, you’re really going to enjoy this. Under a Mushroom by Nigel Summers Photography. A photo collection of mushrooms that seem to be so peaceful and surreal, like little secrets discovered in the forest. Nigel captures the organic, undisturbed beauty of these natural creations.  His story is also just as interesting and alluring as his images. All eyes are on Nigel.

A little about myself…

Essentially, I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to great photography.  I follow a pretty strict code of ‘Get it in camera…’ as much as possible & all of the Under a Mushroom photography is just that, pretty much straight from camera, no vignetting, enhancing or morphing etc.  Just a quick colour check and crop is all I usually do & I really only spend between 20 seconds to a minute editing each image I display.

It’s extremely important for me to do justice to my subject matter and photograph them in a way that enables people to see what I see…something amazing.  I’m often asked about my Photoshop techniques, or if I shoot at night (or underwater), or how do I get the mushrooms back to my studio for setup.  None of this occurs & I shoot everything in-situ, I almost always shoot during the day and I leave the scene as I find it (as much as humanly possible).  I don’t actually have a studio & honestly, I prefer to shoot location anyway.  The same can be said of my Portraiture.  Unless I’m producing a set of highly conceptual & artistic images, I get 90-95% of my aim, in camera.  It’s all about light, and that emotional connection.  The camera is simply the brush I paint with…

Mushroom image 1

{Why and when did you become a photographer?}

I remember the early 80’s getting my first camera when I was about 14.  My Mum spoilt herself with a new camera, one of those newfangled electronic Konicas, and gave me her old late 60’s full manual 35mm rangefinder.  I loved that thing & ended up using it to its death…though strangely I can’t remember the brand.  Looking back at some of the last photos I made with it, you can see the enormous amount of light leakage the poor thing suffered.   Oddly enough it wasn’t creating pictures that drew me to photography, it was a love of these amazing precise machines that were an extension of a person’s creativity…an intricate mechanical paint brush if you like.  Magic in a box.

Under a Mushroom

{How would you describe your style of photography?}

Well, that really depends on whether we’re talking about my Portraiture or Macro work.  The one consistency I think follows through in everything I produce is honesty.  I don’t think it’s possible to lie to that small, but measured, lapse of time when you press the shutter & expect it to believe you.  You get out of it, that which you put in…& that should always be honesty.   Even if I’m working on a conceptual, artistic production, I still need there to be an element of serendipity.  I don’t like to assume absolute & complete control beyond necessity & it really isn’t my place to force a social expectation & constructed reality.  That’s where falsehoods begin… there’s a reason I refuse to photograph a pretty girl in a bikini & (shudder) high heels.  Seriously, how DO they swim in those things?

Under a Mushroom 2

{What is your most difficult challenge in the business?}

Balancing that fine line between maintaining my love for photography, artistic creativity & earning a living from it.  It’s so easy to resent what we do when it becomes a job.

Really though, that’s such a multi-faceted question.  Perhaps what I see as the primary challenge for anyone seriously wanting to earn a living from any creative outlet, is technology …& how cheap & readily available it is to everyone.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but in many ways, certainly challenging for those who’ve spent years developing and gathering experience and knowledge.  Those of us who’ve been around a while need to keep on our toes and understand we face the very real threat of becoming obsolete.  Many seasoned photographers around the world grit their teeth at the term ‘Faux-tographer’…because it’s now so easy & inexpensive to buy a camera, register a business name & call yourself a professional.  It can be insulting to those of us with decades of experience when a ‘$50 photographer’ steals your clients with the promise of ‘every shot on disc’.  I hold a great deal of respect, & share a comradeship with anyone with a passion for photography, but this cheap instant mentality seems to be killing the craft.  My advice?…tenacity & resilience will win every time.  Be good at what you do, love what you do, respect your origins…& others will recognise these values in you.


{Where would you like to see your talents take you?}

Wow.  I can’t really see myself putting a camera down, ever.  It’s not a unique goal to want to travel the world doing what I do…& loving every minute of it.  As photographers we all share this amazing freedom of being untethered from the day to day grind of the 9-5 mentality.  I want to make sure I never lose that freedom.  I’m currently undergoing regeneration as a portraitist photographer & reverting back to the fundamentals.  The pure art of making beautiful imagery, intuitively & from the heart.   I’m planning a different approach and client base altogether.   With regard to my mushroom photography, my first book, ‘Under a Mushroom & Over a Mountain’, is almost complete & I’ll be travelling extensively to gather subject material for the subsequent editions in the series and to promote what I do.

 Mushrooms 2

{Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?}

Oh I like this question, it forces me to identify with myself.  Richard Avedon was a man who had an infectious and enviable connection to his craft.  His was a pure talent & though I would never attempt to emulate him, his simple and unmoving mantras inspire me.  I simply love his work & his honesty…I think that’s where I connect most, with the raw honesty of his pictures and what he stood for.  For completely different reasons though, I love the work of Ansel Adams.  He was instrumental in bringing the world’s attention to a world so much bigger than us all…& he did it so beautifully and unapologetically.  As a macro photographer, this is what I aim for whenever I venture out hunting mushrooms and fungi.  To show the world what they might be missing…just below their feet.  Above all else though, (corny as it sounds) the world we live in will always be my biggest source of inspiration.  It’s completely limitless, & gives without expectation.  We’re all so very lucky to call it our home.

Mushroom Image

{What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer starting out?}

Again, Wow.  I’m really humbled by this question.  I guess, for the preservation of honesty in photography, be sure to connect with your subject…on an emotional level, almost intimately.  Understand how that subject communicates with you & to you.  It doesn’t matter what (or who) the subject might be or what your forte is, you simply need to connect, before you even pick up the camera.  Do that first & the whole process becomes obsolete, & the image alone tells the story…it’s all that matters.  There’s more to a beautiful image than that which we see on the surface.  That’s the key to arresting your audience and captivating them with a photograph that represents just a single, frozen moment in time.  Oh but what a moment when you get it right!

Ants and Mushroom

Please visit Nigel’s Links:

www.nigelsummersphotography.com.au  and  www.facebook.com/underamushroom