Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Joel Grimes: True Grit
Joel Grimes redefines his edge with bold celebrity and commercial portraiture that has kept him in high demand
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
A few years ago, Joel Grimes hit the reset button. He had come to a crossroads of sorts in his career. For several years, his bread and butter had been shooting portraits with a 4x5 view camera using Polaroid Type 55 film. His assignments took him all over the world as he was working for big-time advertising agencies on behalf of big-time companies with big-time budgets. Grimes loved his approach, and so did the clients. And then, "like a light switch," Grimes recalls, it came to an end. The look had run its course, leaving Grimes to figure out what to do next.
Composing A Reinvention
"Gritty," "emotional," "in your face," "larger than life" are some of the words and phrases used to convey the look the photographer is going for now. It's a style that really lends itself to the sports world, says Grimes, who had just finished a shoot with NBA star Blake Griffin when DPP caught up with him. His subjects already look larger than life, yet Grimes makes them look stronger and tougher. He's quick to point out that he's not into chasing reality; rather, his interest lies in creating a place that straddles an imaginary line between two worlds, one that could be real and the other with a touch of fantasy.
To do this, not only has Grimes fully embraced high dynamic range, but he calls it one of the greatest tools in photography right now because he's able to create an image that he simply could not in one capture. His portraits are all composites, a "natural transition" that he says has allowed him to stay in demand as a commercial photographer, but certainly caused some uproar initially among his peers.
When he was developing his new approach, Grimes noticed another trend that ultimately would work to his benefit later: shrinking advertising budgets. Gone were the days when a photographer had a trailer, a gaggle of assistants and time. These days, Grimes may have an hour to shoot an athlete in a hotel lobby. The look is similar to what he had been doing previously, but with the intensified drama and mood that HDR can deliver. No matter how tight the window is for getting a job done, whether 30 minutes or five hours, the final result gives no hint at how much time he had to shoot. Grimes found that this new method seemed to satisfy the creative needs, time constraints and budget limitations under which his commercial advertising clients now operate.
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