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Stephen Axford – Life, Photography & Fungi

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Steve Axford is known around the world for his unique interest in nature and in particular, Fungi. Living in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, he see’s photography as his avenue into the natural world. His work has taken him around the world from Moscow to China and he has been published in global publications such as NatGeo and New Scientist. More recently he has developed a keen interest in Fungi time-lapse. We asked Stephen a few questions about his inspirations and work and this is what he had to share:

Q. Starting from the beginning, what inspired you to get into photography?

I probably fell into it when I bought a digital camera on a whim in late 1999. It could probably be put down to a bit of bipolar disorder, but nothing to serious as, at least in this case, I ended up with an enduring passion.   The camera was a small Canon point-and-shoot camera with a resolution of 0.8MP, but it coincided with me starting to travel a lot again.  I had used film SLR cameras before, but never really felt I had much control over them, except for a very brief excursion into B&W processing in my youth.  The digital camera opened my eyes to the potential of photography and I gradually bought more sophisticated cameras and photography gradually became my passion.

Q. What would you normally take with you to a shoot these days?

That depends on what I am planning to shoot.  I usually have 3 cameras doing time-lapse of fungi at any one time (there is a very high failure rate, but some do work quite well).  If I am taking still photos in a forest, I try to take my Sony A7R2 plus the Sony 90mm macro (if it isn’t being used for time-lapse) and my new Zeiss 21mm loxia.

Q. Understanding that Nature photography is what highlighted your photographic skills, did you have any inspiration getting into it?

Nature by itself is enough of an inspiration for anyone.  I have learnt so much from photographing nature, from huge volcanoes to tiny spiders and from forest giants to tiny fungi.  The more I photograph, the more I learn of the complexity of nature.

Q. From here you have specifically focused on Fungi for your photograph’s, what is it about Fungi that interests you?

Fungi is one of the 3 macro life forms that inhabit this earth.  There are, plants, animals and fungi, yet we know almost nothing about fungi.  The variety and complexity of fungi is staggering.

Q. You have travelled to some unbelievable places in the world, do you have a favourite place to shoot?

I like anywhere that is close to nature, but my favourite places are here in the Northern Rivers.  I have spent many happy days drifting through rainforests near home or even at home.

Q. Do you have a favourite photographer?

I don’t really have one, but I admire Vivian Maier.  She took beautiful photos for many years, yet never showed them to anyone.  She took them because (I’m guessing here) they helped here to see the world, not for any ego thing.  I don’t go quite that far, but I still take photos because I like them and they help me understand the world, not really for anyone else, though I do like it when others appreciate them too.

Q. Would you have any advice for aspiring photographers?

Photograph what you enjoy.  That way you are likely to continue.  If you just want a job, there are many things that will pay more than photography.

Q. Thank you for your time Stephen. Finally, what is on the horizon for Stephen Axford?

My next challenge is learning how to do fungi time lapse in the field.  I’ll be trying it in China in July.

 

See some of Stephen work below or see all of his spectacular work on his website.

 

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