Lee Grant – Photography Blog

Archive for March 2007

Suburban Bush Legend

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Here are some pics of Charlie as Ned Kelly. This was a true collaboration, inspired by Charlie’s favourite Nolan paintings at the NGA – naturally – and photographed down the road from home. Had in mind to submit these to the Albury National Photo Prize (This year’s theme being “Photography as Theatre”), but as luck would have it, we have unfortunately run out of time, unless I drive the prints down to Albury myself…. not likely given how mentally busy we are at the minute! Not to mention the $50 submission fee for the privilege of being considered! Nevermind….





Written by Lee Grant

March 28, 2007 at 10:14 pm

The Ethnography of Wrestling & Suburban Carnivals

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Blimey, it’s been a busy week to say the least! But I feel like the focus (and hopefully the end point) to my work is beginning to become clearer!

I’ve had a constructive meeting with Martyn, a tutorial to properly make use of the Metz set-up with Peter and of course photographed quite a bit – this time, Nelson (a schoofriend of my son Charlie), Maryann and her baby Tanielu (a friend of my sister Kim) and yesterday (which I absolutely loved and will be following up) Main Event Wrestlers who were performing at the local ‘Charny Carny‘, which really was rather entertaining. Regarding the latter, I was pretty amazed at how intense the kids were as the audience – my own 8 year old daughter included! Raucous and almost feral, there was very little in the way of ‘socially appropriate’ child-like behaviour, but then again, they were absolutely involved and in the moment which seems to me to be more child-like than not! And as an old bird – who was also enjoying the flexing of muscle – said to me “ah, they’re kids! It’s all in a bit of fun!”




I suppose the insight that I walked away with is this: that we are all kids for such a short time – and it seems this time is getting shorter and shorter. The kids were tough, there is no doubting this and they’ll likely become tough adults (Charnwood has a reputation for being a tough suburb, though it is slowly becoming ‘gentrified’ due to cheaper – I dare not say cheap – real estate. Despite this, there is a great community feel to the place which from a visual perspective, always makes for good photographic fodder!) Perhaps I am hanging on to some romantic and idealised idea of what childhood actually is, but why not? Life should be magical at least, because it sure is surreal when reality hits! I mean, life is fiction right?

OK, enough philosophising! In short, I’ll be following up the wrestlers for some portraits. I spoke to their manager and they seemed keen, so we shall see. I think they might add some nice flavour to the body of work that I’m working on for my Studies. Speaking of which, I’ll be photographing a workfriend today, with his flatmates. They are all young university students – so another transitionary phase in life. Should be good.

Written by Lee Grant

March 18, 2007 at 9:33 am

Sunday Frolic by the Lake

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Have arrived home from a morning by the lake with a bunch of kids. Always fun, unpredictable and chaotic! My sister Kim came along with her mob as did Tamerah with her girls who I’d arranged to photograph, this time in an outdoors setting.

The park itself was pretty busy with a few birthday parties and a gaggle of those horrid yappy terrier type dogs, all over-excited and jumping around the place. Urgh (I’m not for small yappy dogs in case you were wondering, though I do love dogs, just not the ones today!). The weather was perfect and the lighting just lovely. I ended up photographing Kim’s kids as well, both with the digital and the MF (Medium Format). I’m working at perfecting the fill-flash and for the MF I ended up hand-holding the Metz, so we’ll see wether or not the results end up how I envisaged them!

I also approached a mother (who was there for a party as her 3 boys were playing with our mob in the playground). She was actually about to leave when I asked her if she’d mind if I took some pictures of her kids. She was really great about it I have to say, though I know that it helps that I’m a woman and also a mother myself. It can often be an awkward thing to ask a stranger, but my philosophy is that all they can do is say no, and for the most part very few have. So I have ended up with a few more photographs that I have, at least for now, put into my WIP folder, and Linda (the boys’ mother) will end up with a few more momentos of her boys frolicking by the lake on a sunny Sunday……..





Liam and Robbie

Interestingly I am noting that the digital results really are rather different to those on film and present quite a different sensibility (see pics from posts below to see what I mean). Certainly the immediacy of digital helps as does the confirmation that the lighting (by fill-flash in this case) is working, but Martyn agrees that the MF with film does lend a more formal and composed feel. With kids at least, the digital is fabulous because it is quick and manages to overcome the fidgeting and boredom that children inevitably experience posing for images!! Can’t say I blame them really!

Looking at the images I’ve started to group together I’m also realising that I will have to start photographing more adults as well. Seems that most of my images have been of kids. I aim to rectify this over the next few weeks by photographing several people that I work and study with. Should be great!

Written by Lee Grant

March 11, 2007 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Picture Ponderings

Prizes, Comps, Awards…. it’s an artist’s life!!

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Today, being a Saturday, has naturally been pretty relaxed (hooray for weekends!). This morning I shot some images of Velouria, my good friends Tori’s daughter, at the park. Velouria (named after the Pixies song) is not quite 10. I’ve photographed her before and looking over some of these older images this afternnon whilst editing, I realised that I actually have a substantial body of work of a number of people taken over a period of years. From my days in college to today, I have managed to continue to photograph my friends as well as their children. I think there’s something worth following through here so will endeavour to flesh this out some more. I quite like the idea of a time trajectory in portraits of the same people. Something that certainly has been explored before but I think my contribution may well be worth putting forward. So more on this in the near future.

Here is the final image of Velouria that I like the most:



Glued as I have been this afternoon to my computer I have also been working on submissions to The Churchie Emerging Artist Award as well as the Head On  Alternative Portrait Prize. Closing dates for both are this coming Friday and I realise after much discussion with friends and fellow artists at the School of Art, that participation and application to residencies, awards and other prizes etc… are essential in order to raise one’s profile. So this will be in my frame of view – so to speak – over the next few years! I recently also entered into the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, which unfortunately I didn’t make. It is an extremely competitive environment to subject oneself to but I figure ‘you gotta be in it to win it’! It was also the first ever competition that I’ve entered, so as good a place to start as any!

After a tutorial with Martyn Jolly yesterday (my supervisor at uni), I have decided to continue shooting in both digital and MF film with a plan to experiment on the Linhoff 4×5′ camera for my portrait series. I’ll be workshopping an outdoor flash set-up as well as the Linhoff itself at the end of next week with Peter Fitzgerald and good ol’ Jason (Photomedia’s technical officer who knows everything). This should certainly contribute to me getting my head around a set-up that works in the way that I envisage!!

Tomorrow I’ll be re-photographing Tamerah’s girls, this time outdoors by the Lake.  Should be good……..

Written by Lee Grant

March 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Picture Ponderings

f-stop and focus

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Today I visited the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to see an exhibition called Focus – Photographs from the AWM Collection. I’d been meaning to see it for a while now but finally got around to it. It was interesting enough with the usual bevvy of macho Aussie photographers from WW2 through Korea, Vietnam (think Tim Page) and of course the new generation of adrenalin junkies such as David Dare Parker and Stephen Dupont (actually a phenomenally good photographer). Naturally they had the one token woman, oddly enough in the form of Heide Smith (for a boring stint she did in Cambodia. Why people laud her work is beyond me?? OK maybe the Tiwi series was interesting enough but still!). Despite my initial cynicism – when are they going to get over the whole romantic notion of what it means to be a photojournalist, and why weren’t there more women shown given that Australia has it’s own albeit obscure history of female photojournalists?! – I did walk away with a strong sense that today’s photographers are setting a new pace in the genre. Stephen Dupont’s work was sensational, beautifully shot with a strong sense of both the colour and space of the environments he works in. Whilst B&W featured in his selection of images, he also borrowed (my guess) from Luc Delahaye using the panoramic format to great effect as well as mixing B&W with colour images. The work was at once art and documentary and provided a great insight into the machinations of conflict for both civilians and soldiers. Dare Parker and Ben Bohane on the other hand seem to work more from the traditions of the genre and though there were some striking images, overall I felt that Dupont’s work was stronger. Certainly it spoke to me more in that it felt less action oriented than reflective about the meaning of conflict and the impact of war for all sides.

Interestingly I pondered why there weren’t more women photographers shown? Was it because of the rather masculine nature of the War memorial itself (and that they tend to select as their appointed artists/photographers mostly men) and further that war is in and of itself a rather male preoccupation? My hunch is that this is indeed the case. I know for myself that my points of interest would gravitate more to the domestic sphere and the impact of war on family, culture and the workings of daily life were I to work in such an environment.

Having admitted this, I asked myself then, would I have the proverbial ‘balls’ to go into a conflict zone to photograph? I know that I would love to, but I wonder if this isn’t my own inner romantic notion of what it means to be an intrepid photographer shooting the exotic breeze!
Thinking about going to Afghanistan with an Afghani friend later in the year has had me thinking about my own capacity for such work. There is no question that I would go (pending finances), but the question that does remain is how I would travel, under what guise and as a woman what my approach would inevitably be given the cultural discrepancies between men and women in Afghanistan. Certainly it would be an opportunity and window into a hidden female world, and one that I have always held a long interest in. But as a mother, I am also apprehensive that I make wise choices as to the above. Perhaps though being a mother will allow me as an artist a more profound insight, one that is slower to move (less action oriented) and more formal and emotional. I certainly hope so……

On another more immediate note, I shall also be photographing Nelson and asking Denise if I can photograph her daughter Meg. Friday I shall meet with Marianne (Kim’s friend) who hails originally from Tonga (I think). I hope they fit in with the portraits project that I have in mind. If not I may still shoot her ‘after Gauguin’ or as part of the ‘Migrants in Suburbia’ series. Everything is going along nicely. However I know that I do need to make up my mind about the oldies and the war vets. What to do??? I really need to rethink my angle on these series, as I’m really not satisfied with them and until I figure this out I’m loathe to go back. Ironically I’ll have to get my backside into gear as I can’t alienate them either by disappearing from view! Mmmm……

Oh and I picked up films from the weekend. Trannies were somewhat underexposed (bummer!) but did manage to retrieve one shot of Molly that I’m happy with and works well in the portrait series that I have in mind.


 Molly wearing her Mother’s dress

Also there was one from Tamara’s girls that I like. Again, from a technical standpoint I really have to get it together with using the Metz. It’s so bloody bulky and awkward. I think I shall look to set-up a portable flash on a tripod, not unlike Rineke Djikstra’s perhaps? Anyway here are the shots in MF. God I love this format. It’s definitely more formal and ‘still-life’. Not sure which way to pursue???



Written by Lee Grant

March 7, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Picture Ponderings

Weekend Frenzy

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Hot day today for shooting but worth it. Photographed Molly (my nearly 3 year old niece) and Michaela and her sister Katia. Will reshoot Michaela by the lake in the next week or so.

Shot digital and MF (using neg and slide). Look forward to seeing results. Am particularly happy with these pics:



Photographing Molly was amazing as I’d picked out a cute dress from her wardrobe without realising that it was a dress that my sister (Molly’s mother) used to wear when she was a child. Location was by a fence on a reserve in Ainslie where sunflowers had managed to push their way through a fence. The lighting was a little difficult (I never seem to manage to pick ideal times but you work with what you have right?), but the clouds helped when they passed over the sun. Shooting on the Blad was great and for some strange reason, looking in to the waist level finder and composing Molly was like stepping back in time and seeing myself at 3. Surreal in a way but also exciting. I figured that even if the images didn’t work out for my body of work at least we have something sentimental with Molly in her Mother’s dress. Funny how an image can take one back…… Yep, photography and memory!

Later dropped into the hardware store to pick up a few things and met an amazing chap called Chris. He’s an amputee and we ended up chatting about how he lost his arm. Bit of a flirt really but charming. I’ll definitely be asking to photograph him – I’m really hoping he says yes as he seemed to be my type of photogenic person (well that I like to photograph at least). Successful pics could also contribute to my ‘Australian Men’ series. So here’s hoping. I’ll contact him in the next fortnight.

Written by Lee Grant

March 4, 2007 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Life is Fiction

Here we go again…………

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Righto! It’s been a while but we’re back on board and it’s all good. A new year with new resolutions – the major one being my studies. So this blog will serve primarily as my sounding board for ideas, progress and other uni related photographic things. My headspace seems to be clearer and I’m keen to get stuck into developing my work both written and photographic.

Good people at the ANU and other far-flung place of the world – that is my esteemed supervisors, fellow artists, friends and mentors – please feel free to add comments.

Here goes!

Written by Lee Grant

March 3, 2007 at 9:13 pm