Portraits that show people’s character
Ross Grieve chose to become a photographer more than twenty years ago. He started out in New Zealand as an action photographer. Working with analogue film, every shot had to count. That’s how he learned the basic knowledge and skills that still come in handy. ‘I don’t take a shot, I make the shot.’
He is a portrait photographer, and the street is his playground. He shoots in his studio, but also on location. LUMIX cameras are his favourite gear. ‘Not because I’m a LUMIX ambassador, but because the cameras are excellent: they’re light cameras on steroids, that’s the best description.’ He’s always been a people person, and maybe that’s one of the most important characteristics of a portrait photographer. In order to get the best portrait possible, people have to feel at ease. ‘The best photos are the ones that really show people’s traits. They have to gaze through the picture, so to say. In order for that to happen, they have to trust you as a photographer.’
But how do you accomplish that? After all, most people are quite nervous when they’re being photographed. ‘My studio is really relaxed, so that helps. When I welcome people into my studio, we start with a chat and some tea or coffee. During the shoot I’ll keep on talking with them, which surprises most people, who are used to staring at their phones for hours every day.
Sometimes the best shots are made at the beginning, when people think I haven’t really started yet. I’ll often say that I want to do some practise shots, to see if the settings and light are correct. For some people, that helps them to relax.’ In the studio, it’s much easier to control the situation. ‘When shooting on location, the conditions vary. To be able to get the images you want, you must have an understanding of light. The best way to understand light and different lighting conditions is to shoot on the street, where the conditions change constantly. One day you have to work with harsh light, and the next day the light is diffuse because of heavy clouds.’
He still likes to do street photography. ‘I live in a rural area, so every time I go to a big city, I get a sensory overload. I’m like a kid in a candy store. Next week I’m going to London, I can’t wait!’ Even after twenty years, he doesn’t get bored of photography. ‘I’m inspired by the people I meet.
I also like to go to galleries and see different kinds of art. In paintings, I always look at the use of light. It’s inspirational to see how other people use it. I also attend courses to keep up with new techniques or software. The day I stop learning, is the day I stop photographing.’ Grieve regularly gives lectures and together with other photographers makes podcasts about photography called ‘Talking Shot’. ‘We started a year ago, and have produced 29 podcasts so far. These are light-hearted talks about film and video. They’re not very technical, we have a laugh and are able to keep people involved. Next to the podcasts, it’s nice to work together with other photographers. As a photographer, most of the time you work alone.
Mental health is very important; you have to make sure you don’t get lonely. That means doing other things besides photography to clear your head. I can really enjoy going to a cafe and sitting there for an hour, watching people and absorbing the atmosphere.’ He decided to work with LUMIX cameras years ago. ‘I used to work with DSLR cameras, but during a trip back to New Zealand, I discovered how wonderful LUMIX cameras are to work with. They’re lightweight and, for example, the 4K technique helps me to make photos that otherwise would only be possible with postproduction. Panasonic really listens to their community and constantly improves their cameras to make them the best they can be.’
New Zealand born photographer Ross Grieve has been mastering his art for over 20 years. Ross now resides in the beautiful rolling countryside of Pembrokeshire in Wales. An accomplished photographer who has won many awards including UK Pet Photographer and Welsh Master Fashion & Portrait Photographer, he has travelled to far-flung parts of the world on assignment including Thailand, the Maldives, Ras Al Khaimah, Japan, Sweden and Australia. He is also a passionate Street Photographer. Ross was one of two photographers involved in the Lumix GH5 campaign, where he was able to show the advantages of 4K and 6K photography.
Listen to his photography podcasts here