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Who is the Friendly Fungus?

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Hello! My name is Anna Towers and I am a fungi photographer! I’ve been photographing mushrooms in California for almost 10 years now. I currently live along the picturesque Mendocino Coast in a small studio by the sea with my husband and our cat.

The origin story of Friendly Fungus Photography begins after my graduation from college. Having always been a nature girl at heart, the time I reclaimed from my studies permitted me to begin exploring the San Francisco East Bay’s regional park trails. It didn’t take long before I realized that there was an astounding variety of colorful fungi flourishing in my own backyard. I was increasingly inspired by awe and curiosity as I became more and more entranced by the colorful little mushrooms that grew on my neighborhood trails. That fascination led to obsession, infatuation, and well… a passion that I’ve been unable to satiate to this day!

Nowadays, I feel strongly that I have a unique ability to visualize and capture the often unseen mycological world in a way that can convince anyone that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But I had to learn through experience how to really invoke that magic! As I found myself more and more enchanted by the fascinating assortment of shapes and colors I was discovering, I began snapping photos on my phone, and eventually upgraded to a “real” DSLR camera. It was evident that mushroom photography offered me with a uniquely satisfying opportunity to interact with the natural world, and I knew I wanted to share that beauty with those I love.

It may sound surprising, but fungi photography is a very physical activity! To adequately capture a bug’s eye view of a mushroom is normally not an easy task! I spend most of my time flat on the ground, in the dirt. It's usually muddy, wet, very cold, and I spend a lot of time avoiding kneeling on sharp sticks and rocks, inhaling detritus and debris, stretching around or under bushes and tree branches, and keeping an eye out for banana slugs, newts, and other redwood forest friends (which I certainly do enjoy). It’s taken years for me to perfect how to actually go about photographing the mushrooms I find in a way that I feel appropriately captures the aesthetic beauty of these often overlooked organisms. I'm very particular! And while it may be a very physically uncomfortable hobby at times, the excitement I experience over finding and photographing something especially curious or beautiful is always so worth it. That moment when I review my digital photos on a computer screen for the first time, find a winning shot and think, “WOW”… Those are the moments I live for!

What came next was your proverbial “fall down the rabbit hole”. I found myself completely swept up in everything mushrooms; magazine publications, interpretive work and events, opening my own business online and in stores, vending at fungus fairs, gallery showings, a growing social media presence, partnering with the Science Channel. I also started cultivating a community of like-minded mycophiles, made friends all over the world, and discovered a rare sense of keen belonging amongst my fellow fun-guys. I am admittedly a naturally shy person, but I can “talk mushrooms” with just about anyone. I’ve never looked back!

Nowadays, I'm so lucky to call the Mendocino Coast's incredible redwood forests, laden with weird, wild, and wondrous fungi of all colors, shapes, sizes, and textures, my home. I am very proud to be involved in a variety of Fort Bragg and Mendocino events as a fungi photography vendor and recently unveiled my new online shop here on my website! Mycology is such an integral part of my life, and I am so excited to share this magical microcosm with each of you. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me—and the fabulously fascinating fungi that I so passionately represent!

Do you dare to wonder?

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