Lee Grant – Photography Blog

Archive for February 2009

The tiny little halo of light at the end of a very long tunnel

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The last few months have been quite amazing in terms of the reception I’m starting to get with my work. I’d wager that it’s most photographers’ wish to show their work to a broader audience, whether that be in print, on a wall in a collection or gallery space or even online.  It certainly has been for me and over the last 4 years I’ve had some quite cool opportunities to show my work and I must admit that many of these have come as a result of competitions I’ve entered.

I can be a little cynical sometimes about the competition process, partially due to fees (it can be difficult to justify the often over-the-top costs just to participate – especially in this tough economic climate…. Food, rent or photography??) but also I do think there is a fair bit of politics and just plain trepidation when it comes to taking a punt on an unknown artist. However, having said this I also sincerely believe that sheer bloody determination and persistence can pay off. The more comps you enter the more familiar your name becomes to the very small circle of curators and judges that sit on the selection panels. Of course it helps to submit strong work in the first place but there is definitely something to be said about being stubborn and persevering….

For me the proof has come in the form of two opportunities, firstly the ACP portfolio review I mentioned a few posts back has resulted in an invitation to exhibit in a group show called Inheritance. The show will also feature Tracey Moffatt and quite a few other photographers, including Bindi Cole. I’m pretty excited. Secondly, another comp entry, this time to the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award has paid off with my selection as a finalist. Yay for me!! It’s the first time I’ve entered this award. In previous years I simply missed the boat or never got my act together on time. I’m glad I did this time! The image they’ve selected is below:


Wednesday Night at the Tai Ping, 2008

Curator Naomi Cass from the CCP was the judge on this occasion. Suffice to say that I’m happy despite some anxiety with regards to how I’m going to pay for shipping and printing etc…. To help offset the costs though, I’ve  started teaching a documentary photography class to third years at the ANU School of Art. The first lesson was last week and it went pretty well. I’m looking forward to seeing the work that the students produce which will centre on the current economic crisis and how it has affected Australians in general (or not). The final outcome is to be a Blurb book and a small exhibition in PhotoSpace. Can’t quite believe I’m getting paid to teach something that I love!

On the other hand, it’s hardcore crunch time now with regards to my dissertation and I really have to just get writing. So, I’ll finish here and get on with it I guess (sigh…..).

Written by Lee Grant

February 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Photo Echo

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Checkout these two photos!


William Eggleston from the series Election Eve.


My picture from the Oriental Dinner series

Funny, I remember my supervisor Helen looking at my image and thinking of Eggleston’s. At the time I didn’t know which image she was referring to, but I did come across Eggleston’s photograph today at work and remembered what she had said. I’m not sure it’s completely the same, but I know what she meant. Goes to show, that no matter how original you try to be, it’s bound to have been done before, even to the point it looks like someone elses……

I’m not sure if that’s cause to smile (because its Eggleston) or cry (because its Eggleston)…….

Written by Lee Grant

February 24, 2009 at 7:38 pm

“Slay Normalcy and Save the World”: LARPing and Monster Camp

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NOT having TV can have its downsides, like missing out on a screening of the following documentary Monster Camp on ABC 😦  I love everything about re-enactment and role-playing cultures and it looks like this is a quirky look at some of the characters known as LARPers (Live Action Role Playing) that inhabit the peculiar World of Warcraft.

Nevermind, I’ll have to catch it on DVD, thanks to my lil’ sis Nattie for telling me about it and thinking of me! Funny how people now seem to have an idea of the kinds of stuff I like to photograph. I’ve got a pretty good stream of ideas coming from various friends and relos. Keep em rolling in folks.

There are a number of photographers (interestingly many of them women) who have looked at re-enactment. Here are a few examples:


An My Le from Small Wars

25friendxlarge1Elena Dorfman from the series Fandomania

greta-prattGreta Pratt from the series Nineteen Lincolns

And lastly one from my own series, The Medievalists:


Lee Grant from the series The Medievalists

Web-forums and collectives: helping each other to help ourselves

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Well, I think the journey is well and truly underway with PhotoForum NZ posting an article about Light Journeys. Thanks to Abby Storey for the write-up and for the support from everyone so far. We are still in the process of designing the site and are looking to launch it late March/early April. So keep those submissions rolling in ladies!

On another note, the kids and I have been crook these last few days (don’t worry, I’ll spare you the details!), which has meant a lot of sleep but also a bit more web-surfing than usual. It was good to check out sites that I haven’t had a chance to for a while and also to discover some new ones.

What was most interesting – I think I’m noticing more since starting out the new venture with Light Journeys – was seeing how other photographers around the place (OK, mostly the States) are pooling their resources and talents to promote their work in a collaborative but mutually supportive setting. The Exposure Project is one such website that I was pleased to find along with the We Can’t Paint Network and it’s affiliate magazine Wassenaar, Pause to Begin and Ahorn Magazine.

Check them out. The lesson I take from these initiatives, is that there’s strength in numbers. C’mon fellow Antipodeans, shouldn’t we just ditch the stupid tall poppy syndrome and just help each other out? I could only find one local example of a similar collective and that’s the Melbourne based, the f2.8 group. My only issue with the latter is the fee requested for membership and whilst I get it (it takes time and money to put these sites together), my preference is to see a voluntary contribution button rather than having your visitors feel excluded because of a fee imposed membership requirement. It smacks a little of the fee-based photo-comps that are all around…. Outrageous! How the hell does an artist NOT have to pay their way to be noticed? But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Do let me know of other Australian (even New Zealand) based, grass-roots collectives that support emerging photographers, that you might know about…. Unfortunately my web-surfing time allocation is much reduced these days…. unless of course I’m sick!

Anyways…. here are a few Holga snaps from my ongoing series about Australia, “Where the Heart is”:


Bronte, Stony Creek


Bloody Possum! Bristol Point


Skippy the Roo, Bristol Point

The Everlasting Moment of Maria Larsson (2008)

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On the topic of women photographers is this recent film from Sweden “Everlasting Moments”. It was a 2008 nominee for best foreign film at the Golden Globes.


Set in 1907, this magnificent period drama about a female photographer living in Sweden is both an intimate family portrait and a rich canvas of working-class life at a time when socialist and anarchist beliefs flourished in the shadow of strikes and demonstrations. Strict Protestant traditions dominated, suppressing any ideas of women’s rights or common sense.

Agneta Ulstater Troell, the director’s wife, based the novel and screen adaptation on the life of her ancestor, Maria Larsson, a simple though determined woman and mother of seven, married to a charming bull-like dockworker who was often drunk. After winning a camera in a lottery, Maria became a photographer at a time when no woman would have dreamt of embracing such a profession and few men would condone it.

Director: Jan Troell · 110min · TBC
In Swedish with subtitles

Looks like a tearjerker….

Written by Lee Grant

February 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

Eyeblink…. you blink, we all blink for…. photographs (of course!)

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I’ve (probably foolishly) started a new site where I just post a photo…. not quite a photo a day but something like this. Posted images will likely be works-in-progess which make up the studio component of my Masters and maybe other stuff that takes my fancy and that I feel like sharing. If you’re interested you can check it out HERE.

Go on, you know you want to…… Here’s an owl before you go. Owls (especially this one) are very cool.


Mopoke Owl, Bristol Point, 2009

Written by Lee Grant

February 3, 2009 at 9:20 pm

New Year… New Goals and some Light Journeys

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Well, first post for 2009 and I can report that it’s HOT! The weather that is… but also for projects planned this year.

It’s my final year at uni and I’ve already warned family and friends that it’s gonna be hell (though preferably in a baby-blue Karmann-Ghia rather than the proverbial handbasket!). Lots of writing and shooting still… I’m getting worried that I could just end up doing a W.Eugene Smith with his Pittsburg project…. Belco is too interesting to stop and I admit I have difficulties knowing when a project is done. My instinct – along with advice from others – is that I’m not there yet. I guess I’ll know when I get there? It’s all about the editing…. a photographer’s toughest challenge it seems…

On another note, my co-conspirator U.K Frederick and I have also put out a call to Australian women photographers to submit to a new initiative we have set up called Light Journeys. Our first submission date is March 8th (International Women’s Day) so if you are an Australian woman working in the field of photomedia please visit our temporary site for details by clicking on the banner below:


And spread the word, this project is about supporting each other, getting some of your work out there and promoting the amazing (often underrated) talent we have in Australia!

More exciting  news, I’ve been asked to exhibit some of my work in an upcoming group exhibition about family at the ACP in Sydney. This comes as a result of my recent portfolio review so definitely a worthwhile experience as you never know what opportunities can come out of being persistent. The show is scheduled for July and I’m currently going through images to see what might fit. The theme is an interesting one and it’s been a challenge to decide which way I want to interpret the idea of family, especially since Family is something I photograph a lot of, both in the term’s traditional sense but also in its various other social and cultural manifestations.

And finally, since every new year requires some sort of resolution, I resolve to be less frantic about my work and to enjoy every aspect of the process more (not that I already don’t but being more zen about it might help?). Since I’ve been out bush for the last 2 weeks – back to our favourite place in the world, Bristol Point – I am feeling refreshed and feel a little spring in my step…. now if only it would cool down a little…….

Below are a few still-lives that I have begun working on with fellow photographer Carolyn Young. We shot them large format and they make a refreshing change to portraiture. Interestingly the genre of still-life is a loaded one (more than I initially realised) but it’s an interesting one to explore nevertheless and I dare say we’ll continue with the project throughout the year.


Still Life II (in collaboration with Carolyn Young)


Still Life IV (in collaboration with Carolyn Young)