MONTECRISTO, a Vancouver lifestyle magazine, recently called upon local fine art photographer, Grant Harder, for an earthy assignment. Grant works with MONTECRISTO often, and is always happy to shoot for them in his typical “honest, with a hint of quirk” photography style. For this assignment, he would be working with art director Mark Reynolds to illustrate an article on mushroom foraging.
Before this fungi-focused shoot, Grant didn’t know much about mushroom foraging, except that he’d run into a few mushroom pickers while planting tress in northern British Columbia. MONTECRISTO’s article centered around one mushroom man, Tyler Gray of Mikuni Wild Harvest, who provides foraged and specialty foods to top chefs and fresh food enthusiasts across British Columbia. Spending the day photographing Tyler, Grant got to learn a thing or two about mushrooming, and even saw some similarities to his own past profession,
I used to work in reforestation. After spending the morning with Tyler, I came to learn that foraging has a lot in common with planting trees; you have to be efficient, know the best spots to pick/plant and they’re both paid by the amount you pick or plant. The harder and smarter you work, the more money.
The shoot itself was a somewhat casual affair. MONTECRISTO wanted environmental portraits of Tyler along with mushroom details and “action” shots of Tyler picking them. Grant had a good amount of creative freedom to play with the shoot and add his own style. He was thrilled with the light beaming through the trees, and with Tyler—not only his personality, but his handsome attire as well—all of which added to the allure and serenity of the resulting photographs. Grant says,
The elements were all there for me: great light, beautiful setting and an interesting subject. Working in a natural environment like this is where I’m probably at my most comfortable. I love the uncertainty and thinking on the fly. I guess my instincts bring through my style.
After the shoot, Grant not only came home with some great photos, but with a bag of wild mushrooms as well. Mark and the rest of the MONTECRISTO crew were really happy with the pictures and used a good number of them to illustrate Tyler’s story.
[This assignment was] a reminder in why I pick up the camera—to meet new people and have new experiences. If I’m shooting something that I would actually like to be doing myself, even if I didn’t have a camera with me, then it must be the right job for me.