Photographer finds beauty in ‘gross’ nature

Paul Irvine.
Paul Irvine.

PAUL Irvine sees beauty in the parts of nature many find gross, scary or ugly.

The Singleton photographer travels all over metropolitan Perth and beyond with camera in hand to get up close and personal with underappreciated aspects of nature including insects, spiders and fungus.

Mr Irvine said he had always been interested in nature after watching wildlife shows on TV as a child and deciding he wanted to capture his own snapshots of that world.

He said it had been a conscious decision to photograph that which people usually found ugly or disgusting.

Ghostly Paganoni. Photo: Paul Irvine.

“At the same time it’s one driven by fascination and the desire to overcome my own fears and misconceptions,” he said.

“I have found that these subjects in particular, whilst assumed “gross”, always create the greatest conversations when people see my photos.

“Laying on your belly in a wet dirt trying to shoot a 4mm spider whilst dodging ticks and large stinging ants is not everyone’s idea of fun day out, but for some reason I find this a challenge that I enjoy.”

Mr Irvine is used covering large distances, sometimes as much as four hours, as he moves from coastal beaches to dense bushland and swampy ground, all to find that perfect shot.

He’s gotten so good at it he’s even discovered two previously unknown species of spider, one in 2016 at Karnup Reserve in Baldivis, now dubbed Maratus Gemmifer, and the other last year which is still to be named.

Maratus Gemmifer spider. Photo: Paul Irvine.

He said he hoped those who saw his photos learned to find beauty in the ugliest of subjects.

“I really hope I get to show people what they don’t get to see or to see it from a new angle,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity also to show people incredible naturally occurring things like the bioluminescent ghost fungi or the crazy dancing antics, patterns and colours of a peacock jumping spider, the mimicry of an ant mimic spider and the softness and beauty of a little blue butterfly.”

Visit www.facebook.com/PWI.Photography.1969 for more photos.

A Paganoni stack. Photo: Paul Irvine.