What people are saying about Machel Spence’s Mushroom photography…
“It’s difficult to know where to begin with Machel’s work. There is, of course, a stunning beauty in her images of fungi. Taken as a group, they let the viewer in on an entire world — a literal kingdom, biologically speaking — and its eerie inhabitants. There is the palpable sense of being witness to beings that don’t fit into the animal and plant categories. Here: they are squat and dark; there: they seem to float, tethered to the earth by a string-like translucent stalk. And while there are a handful of entertaining anthropomorphic moments, for the most part, the mushrooms and other fungi are very plainly their alien selves, living in semi-darkness and leafy shadow with bursts of light, their landscapes otherworldly.
While Machel often includes interesting information on the species she shoots, what makes you want to know more is simply recognizing the fact that such life forms exist in the real world–that these fantasy landscapes are not scenes from a science-fiction film, or even photos from the jungles of Borneo: they are photos captured in Washington’s forests. Scenes all too easily overlooked by hikers or anyone else unwilling to dig their elbows down into the dirt and open themselves to the unusual perspective of the forest floor.” - Owen Schaefer
“Machel’s mushroom images are fantastic. Her camera shrinks you down and pulls you right into the habitat, standing before vibrant dripping mushrooms, towering in front of you. Her eye focuses yours onto minute details of even the most cryptic fungus and pushes the surroundings into your periphery. It’s a mesmerizing effect.” -Britt A. Bunyard PhD, Editor in Chief
“As a life-long naturalist, I own many field guides on a variety of subjects, as well as all of the guides published by The National Geographic Society. They’re beautifully done and have served me well over the years.
Machel doesn’t just show us a documentary photo of a species of mushroom or fungi. Her imagery goes FAR beyond that. She shows us the environs they’re found in a most distinct and beautiful style that is her own. I love images that are taken in natural light, as Machel’s are. I’ve often told her that I feel like I’m right down on my knees prowling around the understory with her when I view her images. I can almost smell the humus, and feel the thick moisture in the air around me when I look at her photos. She puts the viewer *right there*, and as a nature photographer myself, I feel there is no higher praise than that. She shares a most delightful and fragile ecosystem that many have never seen, much less explored on their own. The world is truly a magical place and Machel captures that magic SO very well. I’d love to see National Geographic get behind publishing a book of her work. It would not only benefit all naturalists, but it would open the eyes of anyone who cherishes the wonderful diversity and bounty of life that is found in the natural world.” - Cynthia J. Mead (master naturalist and field editor)
“I am literally transported into Machel’s magical Forest world every time I look at her photos! Viewing her stream makes me want to move North! I have always loved miniature scenes, and moss, and mushrooms, and so I was amazed when I found Machel’s Flickr stream, because she loves the same things! It proves that there are other people besides me who love getting on their hands and knees in the search for tiny mushrooms and fungi! I am NOT the only crazy one! Lol.
I come to Machel’s stream when I want to relax and clear my brain from a stressful day. Her photos take me to the middle of the forest, where I can hear the birds chirping and the wind rustling the leaves. Her photography is just magic, plain and simple. Thank you, Machel, for sharing your gift with us. ” - Shari
“Machel’s work in the world of mushrooms and related fungi embodies unmatched vision, passion and artistic talent–a seamless blend forged on the forest floors and lush surroundings of her native Pacific Northwest. Her images are so carefully crafted, richly detailed and artfully composed that the viewer–whether that be online, in print or at a gallery showing–is instantly transported back to a time of childhood discovery: as if we’re seeing nature’s beauty in all its colorful, luscious glory for the very first time.” - Steven Brisson
“I remember the first time I saw some photos of mushroom and fungi shots and I thought wow "that’s such an odd thing to photograph" and to tell the truth they weren’t very appealing, either-they looked very wet and or sometimes gooey if that makes any sense…but I just didn’t understand the appeal of photographing mushrooms and fungi.
Then one day, I went into a photo stream and I saw the most amazing light and mushroom shot I had ever seen…it was Machel’s work and then as I started going through her photos, I became even more enamored by her exquisite work.
Machel has a way of capturing nature at it’s best-she almost seems one with the world, and especially with the forest floor. When I read that she really gets down on the ground, as you would have to to capture these tiny little beauties and that she is able to capture images of things that people like myself normally wouldn’t even notice…
She sees the world and all it’s wonders in the plant life and what it does for our environment-she teaches others to respect plant life and challenges us to love nature through her amazing captures.
Some how Machel is able to capture the light-it gives her photos a very magical quality and shows the mushrooms and fungi in their best form.
The light shines through her mushrooms and sometimes give them an unworldly look, and you are able to see every line and detail-it pulls you in, and you just keep staring at it thinking "Wow this is the coolest thing I have ever seen" it inspires you to go out and look at nature with different eyes…I love her work and look forward to every new post she has, because I know, that each one will be a magical little wonder for me to see and explore through her lens.” - Shirina
“I can definitely feel Machel’s love for nature in its natural state. She captures the mushrooms at all stages of growth and in a wide variety of lighting. They all turn out so magical! I am brought to another world when I view her photos, one that I can not experience from the area we live in. She always gives us interesting facts about the mushrooms that can help us respect and appreciate the beauty that she captures. Yes, all of the photos are of mushrooms, but they are each unique and beautiful!” - Constance J.
“The first time I saw Machel’s photographs I could not believe how breathtakingly beautiful these mushrooms were and how beautifully they were photographed. Then I began reading all the information she provided about the mushrooms that she shot–not just information but her passion just jumped right off of the screen! She engaged someone like me, someone who was not particularly interested in mushrooms and then INSECTS!! My goodness, it takes some great skill to draw people into something unfamiliar and then to HOLD them there and keep them coming back. Yes, her photographs are amazing–she have the ability to photograph anything and make it special--but her extreme love of this particular subject just shines on through and makes the observer want to know more and see more.
I also started thinking about the way that she photographs these beauties and, in fact, all of her photography--it is straight out of the camera–so I would think from the perspective of an organization who informs and teaches–that would be a huge boon. These photos are the real deal.
Then her knowledge: she has photographed and has information on such a vast amount of mushrooms. I had no idea there were so many! So Machel has engage me on so many levels and I look forward to her daily posts. She also gives life to these incredible fungi–the settings that they grow in are fascinating and most of us are not roaming the woods and miss out on so much. She bring these hidden delights out of hiding, into our offices and living rooms!!!” - Linda
“Your work is something I share with my children, actually. I want them to be in the world the way you are, to care about preserving all its wonders–it’s amazing how much there is to discover, if we take the time to really see, and you do that so naturally, Machel. You’ve found another world, in miniature, glowing in light, and you’ve captured it with feeling, and with great beauty. Thank you for sharing it with us; I find myself noticing every little mushroom as I walk, and I’m grateful for the sight.” - Suzy
“But not so much fungi…UNTIL I found Machel on Flickr!! She has shown me the beauty and the wonder of fungi..that I never imagined… Because of Machel…I find myself looking under trees here in hot dry Texas looking for mushrooms and trying to photograph them..so I can show them to her and she can tell me what they are! I have never met anyone who has taken such an interest in one form of nature and been able to show it in such a beautiful lovely haunting memorable way!!!” - Debbie Shell
“It’s simple. There’s nobody quite like Machel Spence that makes you realize that there is a whole, vast, unknown world out there… and that you don’t need to travel to distant lands, under water, or outer space to see it. It is under your feet, on the forest floor.” - Dr. Satoru Murata
“My photographic interests are all over the map. I love portraits, macros, fashion, nature, everything.
However, stumbling upon Machel’s oeuvre in the area of the lowly fungi was a complete eye opener. She somehow brings the wonder and luminosity of this nether hidden world into full view for all to enjoy the wonders that she sees. Every photo is an exquisite work and composition that leaves our shroomy friends at the center of attention but also magically and symbiotically shows what an artistic eye and talent she has. I consider her a bit of a mushroom savant!” - Dave
“Machel’s knowledge of and talent in capturing the tiny, magical world of mushrooms and fungi is beyond remarkable. She has such an amazing eye and a heightened awareness to be able to capture the view of the often-unseen, hidden world of the forest floor. It is so wonderful for us to get to see these minuscule creations of nature…she brings them right to me in the most beautiful forms and with a sense of style we have seldom before seen.” - Susan Gary
“You generously give a complete sensory experience - besides looking at those beautiful mushrooms, I can almost smell the mustiness of the earth as you photograph them in their natural environment, just where you find them. I want to touch them because you manage to capture so much fascinating detail in every one and I can almost hear the sounds of the forest moving/growing - there’s nothing quite like it. I am full of wonder when I see your work and feel in touch with a part of an amazing world that I otherwise would not see.
You show us that the natural world on the forest floor is thriving and your documentation of that is intelligent, passionate and artistic. I have learned a few things along with the way too and I’m always open to that!
Wandering into the forest with you through your photographs is an absolute joy. I want to see them in a book so I can ‘venture into the forest’ with my daughter and perhaps spark a sense of natural wonder in her.” - Angela Fanton
“I first discovered Machel’s photos this year and I have been in awe of her work ever since. Machel has shown me a world that I didn’t know existed. I was unaware that mushrooms came in such a wide range of shapes and shades. I love that she shares information on each mushroom, it’s so interesting to learn about each one and its habitat. machel has such an admiration for the natural world and it shows in every photo that she takes. I would love to see her work become available to a wider audience. It’s essential that people have a respect for the environment and are encouraged to protect it. I think her photos will show people the diversity of nature and that there is beauty in the most unexpected of places.” - Suzi
“Machel’s pictures lead you to a world of wonder. Where most of us like to walk through woods, looking at the view above and around, Machel looks for the small things underfoot. And here is where she photographs such amazing fungi treasures. Each one is lovingly and tenderly captured, but there’s something more. Machel adds some fairy dust to each picture that transports us into this other realm and reminds us of the importance of maintaining and protecting the natural environment.” - Kirstin Mckee
“Machel could very well be among the best photographers of mushrooms and fungi in the world.
Her passion and appreciation of this part of the biology of the earth is outstanding. She also educating us.
I am confident that others who will view these photographs will be delighted, awed and enlightened.
Also to have her explore and photograph outside of Washington State would be a great contribution to further educate us about this incredible diverse .world of mushrooms and fungi.” - Marilyn Maddison
“Never has a mushroom held such magic. In discovering Machel’s work, I discovered a completely new perspective on an unimagined kingdom. Respect, passion and an inquisitive love of fungi shines through her images and each specimen becomes it’s own unique and emotive character. Through her rendering of light, detail and the very fabric of her subjects, Machel introduces us to a world that is waiting all around us, but with the power to transport us to a place of pure fantasy. As an artist, she stirs the imagination and introduces the viewer to the possibilities quietly waiting to be uncovered. Once opened, our eyes see this magical world in an entirely new way, with her vision as the most tender and inspired of guides.” - Elizabeth
“What an incredible collection of work! It makes me feel like there is still hope - hope that we haven’t destroyed everything natural and beautiful on this earth. And it’s difficult to believe all the different type of fungi exist - what a tremendous learning experience you have honored us with. And the light, color and texture of the different specimen reaches out and makes you want to touch - to feel the light shine through or off of them.
But the most stunning observation is the way the fungi appears to be protective of one another. Some leaning over, others standing proudly looking out from what seem to be their children or siblings. I wish they could speak - I believe they would have a lot to tell us.
We can never learn enough about nature and you have the God-given ability to capture it like no-one I know! I believe this is your calling!” - Tina Lee
“Before I met Machel I had no idea a mushroom could teach me so much. Looking at her images I can experience a story from a mushroom’s point of view, shot so lovingly they become instantly personified, and me emotionally invested. The beautiful and skillful way in which she treats her subject matter draws me in with every detail. It is for this very reason why she have such a loyal following. The ability to engage people with such marvelous mushrooms allows her the standpoint to teach a much more important series of lessons: conservation, environmental awareness, self awareness through fostering a closer relationship to the earth, dedication, passion, advocacy. I just looked through 174 images, all featuring mushrooms, and was totally engaged, educated and impressed with each one. Expertly and devotedly photographed, her images are world class.” - Joelynne
“Machel’s artistry has heightened my awareness of the diversity and fragility of the forest floor. Her images are infused with a magical and enthralling beauty. The ethereal beauty leaves me in awe of the cyclical forces that keep the fine balance of growth and decay in check. I have learned to walk slowly, tread lightly and honour deeply the small but vital fungal frontier.” - Lori B.
“Before discovering Machel’s photography, I was never aware of how beautiful the tiny world of fungi could be. She’s let me in on a wonderful secret of nature, that even the smallest things in our environment hold great beauty, purpose and importance to us all. Her work is a wonderful reminder for all of us to take the time to appreciate every single part of nature, no matter how small. I truly admire Machel’s ability to captivate and delight so many people with her stunning mushroom photography.” - Carolyn