Species List: Awkward Fungus and Animal Portraits (326)
When: 1980-01-01
Observations: 405

Notes: We’ve all seen them: photos of unwitting to unwilling animal participants placed atop, below, beside, or in an otherwise flattering proximity to a fungus. Reminiscent of pictures of confused, upset children seated on a mall Santa’s lap, these creatures are usually minding their own business until some mouth-breathing human with a camera comes along, unapologetically plucks them from whatever they happened to be doing at the time, and poses them for a family portrait of two or more organisms which want/have nothing to do with each other, cursing and repositioning the poor beast until the most “natural” snapshot can be captured of this divine coincidence.

Of course, there are many other times when our ambulatory friends in the natural world make voluntary contact with our hyphal ones, perhaps as a consequence of their ecology, perhaps because a mushroom was the best stepping stone between this rock and that log. In these scenarios, the mouth-breathing human’s hunger for packing the maximum number of kingdoms into a single frame is sated by mere chance. His/her shutter will machine gun in pure providential joy at the totally organic intersection of this many living things, at least one of which is moving and, out of all possible routes, was compelled to move in the direction of fungi. Another case of mycocentricity in action, pure and simple.

Our list’s third and final category consists of the mouth-breather’s choice to showcase some combination of themselves, their friends, their ugly children (or friends’ ugly children) and the fungus in question in a single image. The mouth breather is in command of an abundant supply of ways in which to profane or manipulate his/her fungal subjects to complement his/her ego, whether in the form of simple trophy brandishing (Observation 63699), the “I Found a Hot Girl to Hold My Mushroom” (Observation 252027 & Observation 82875), the impromptu prosthetic penis (Observation 251229), the Supine Shooter McGavin (Observation 302175), or via more dramatic or “tongue-in-cheek” portrayals such as the “American Beauty” (Observation 80728) or the “Album Cover” (Observation 66773 & Observation 117789). In such images, one wonders if the specimens in question wished their manhandlers would only stay put for a little longer, so that they might be given a gentle enzymatic wash, the molecular soup of their remains lovingly absorbed, bit by anthropocentric bit.

We, the viewing public, are often all too quick to pour on the unbridled critical acclaim when confronted with one of these photographic permutations. It is hoped that perhaps when seen from this unpopular perspective, our growing collection of awkward fungus and animal portraits will take on new meaning. Meanwhile, they are assembled here as a photo-essay, a commentary by collage, for all the Mushroom Observer world to see.


Add Comment
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2014-10-20 16:31:41 PDT (-0700)

I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. The list is an attempt to bring some humor to an occasionally dry neck of the internet woods. I like plenty of these pictures just fine.

I think …
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2014-10-19 16:52:21 PDT (-0700)

that you have waaaaaaaay too much time on your hands, Danny! ;)

some of these collected photos are stupid, others are pretty cool. But why waste your time pulling photos of little consequence? You won’t change anyone’s mind, or their photo style.

Maybe those skin breathing amphibs will take up a collection for ya?! Stop newt abuse! Form unions for dog models! The possibilities are endless.

And for the record, I think that Christian’s shot of that sand-dwelling Psath is an excellent photo, with a lot of visual interest. There is no one way to take a mushroom photo.

And really, why should there be?

Your image
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2013-07-09 21:43:11 PDT (-0700)

Strikes me as a photoshoppy variant of category three.

Which category, of the 3 in the intro., does mine fall into?
By: Sam.Schaperow (SamSchaperow)
2013-07-09 19:23:28 PDT (-0700)