Honourable Mention: Mushrooms
Photography Competition Submission
This photo was taken for the Green Office’s Autumn Photography Competition, on the theme: Decay, which took place between the months of October-November 2022.
The definition of the verb ‘to decay’ (according to Google) is “[to] rot or decompose through the action of bacteria and fungi.” At first, I found this to be quite ambiguous since bacteria and fungi are living organisms just as much as the rest of our flora and fauna. However, later I came to realize, that maybe that is exactly the point of decay; decay, though it often carries a negative connotation, is in nature merely another stage in the circle of life. I realized that decay is often equated with destruction and death when it really is the opposite of exactly that. Decay to me is a bilateral process of beginning and ending; of giving and taking; of living and dying.
In my photographs I show mushrooms, fungi, the very things that Google so mundanely equates with the cause of decomposition, while leaving out of focus that it is also the base for new life.
My series of photographs is aimed at debunking this confusion. The mushroom as my main motive serves as a herald of decay, but also stands in and of itself as a new organism: mushrooms are essential for the decay of many organic structures but fall victim to decay themselves. This makes them a symbol for the bilateral process of decay.
With the mushroom pictures I further want to raise awareness to the wonders of our environment and nature. It renews itself, so to say. In today’s world with all the plastic, pollution, high buildings, and generally human made objects, it often seems to me as though the things we interact with are infinite, and indestructible. However, they too will at some point dissipate or decay as that is the process of nature that inevitably cannot be denied. The mushroom pictures are to show how vulnerable, fragile, and yet how strong our environment and our ecosystems are. They defy death every day, and show us hope, if we watch closely enough. And we must watch, since we are, like it or not, part of our environment.
Throughout the series I also follow the motive of water in certain pictures. Water once again is something incredibly valuable and essential to life and of course to the mushrooms. They grow best where there is warmth and moisture. With all its different states and appearances, water also has its own cycle, its own flow, its own strengths, and weaknesses. Regarding environmental topics, in my opinion the topic of water should not be swept under the carpet.
Now that that is said, I find it quite ironic to depict decay through the medium of photography. Photography is said to capture moments of time and make them last forever. Yet, these moments of time have ultimately passed, and the photographs should rather be seen as reminders of what once was. By focusing on nature, I hope my photographs can also give an indication of what will be, as they show the everlasting circle of life and decay.