Frank Grisdale フランク・グリスデール

Perhaps the best art makes you both appreciate and forget the medium being used. Canadian photographer Frank Grisdale certainly achieves this much in his work. He also challenges the boundaries between photography and painting with a photographic style and post- production methods that seem to turn photographs, literally, into a canvas. There is texture and apparent brush strokes. Light works in uncanny ways. Movement is captured, impressionistically.

Grisdale shot briefly late in his teens while traveling the world for a few months. Although self-taught, he landed a photography assignment in Lesotho, Africa, where the landscapes became his muse and his subject. He then abandoned photography until he was 45.

Why landscapes at this late date? Why photography? And how came this unique style?

Koe: Photographers like Ansel Adams turned landscape photography into art of a high order, but these days it seems clichéd for the most part. Why did you choose this genre?

Frank Grisdale: The greatest joy in life comes from being all you can be, which is a whopper of a cliché, but clichés are well worn because they resonate truth. I knew I had to develop an unrelenting focus and stay with it for a very long time in order to be successful. It’s the 10,000-hour rule. Put in that amount of time and you can’t help but become very good, even world class at whatever it is you are doing. So I knew when I decided to pursue photography for the last half of my productive life that I had to choose a genre that I could ‘live with’ for a long stretch. And getting up ridiculously early and being out there in the perfect setting at just the right time was something I knew I could do, consistently, over time. I had been doing it naturally since I was a kid working at our family farm in the summers. Being forced out of bed so regularly and so early by my father to go check the cattle with him imbedded the glory of early morning light in my brain.

K: How do you avoid cliché and sentimentalism?

FG: There was a long period of time between when I was deep into photography during university and my re-start in photography when I turned 45. So even though I didn’t have a camera with me for that 20 year period, I was constantly thinking about photography, reading about it and framing scenes in my head, just because I enjoyed visualizing imagery and viewing images. I bought every book published about photography worth buying. So by the time I started shooting seriously I had a very strong foundation of knowledge about what had been done. Like everyone though, in the first period of developing my work, I had to shoot what others had shot before me—a la Ansel Adams—just to get it out of my system and of course just to get technically proficient by shooting a lot. But I quickly found that shooting what I knew had been done before was unrewarding, uninspiring, and the only people who thought it was great stuff were people who didn’t know much about photography’s history and were seeing something new in what I knew was old.

So the challenge for me after getting my chops down was to shoot landscape the way I had been seeing it in my mind all those years when I was not carrying a camera. Those mind shots are impressionistic, like all day dreams, so I began to try to shoot images that recalled that zen-like state of mind. I hadn’t seen anyone doing that kind of imagery in all my reading so I guess that is how I managed to avoid cliché and sentimentalism—by trying hard to shoot in a style and with a feel that I hadn’t seen in any of the hundreds of books and magazines that I had studied.

K: Your pictures share some qualities with abstract impressionism. Was this conscious or simply a result of your technique?

FG: I can’t say I set out with a goal to be an impressionist. I do recall thinking early on that the detail of an Ansel Adams shot was boring to me—almost too technically perfect to be interesting. That kind of work is the goal of most landscape photographers, so the number of competing images is ridiculous, and they all end up looking like each other. I wanted to be able to enter a landscape with a different goal—that of interpretation rather than duplication.

K: How have painters and their techniques informed your work?

FG: Obviously I like color so the Rothko’s fields of color appeal to me, as does the atmosphere of William Turner. For photographers I should mention that I think the work of Ernst Haas and his motion photography stuck in my head for a long time, as did the intimate nature studies of Eliot Porter. Today I am stunned and inspired by the work of Jack Spencer.

K: Are there any Japanese photographers, or landscape artists, for that matter, whom you admire?

FG: Hiroshi Sugimoto’s legendary seascapes are captivating. Yukikazu Ito has a similar aesthetic but a bit more eerie. He’s an emerging talent.

In his ripe middle-age, it seems Frank Grisdale, too, is an emerging talent. His work is available from a number of international galleries. For more information, please refer to his website:









K: あなたの作品には抽象的印象主義の影響も見られますがそれは意識的なものですか?


K: 画家や絵画的手法からの影響はありますか?


K: 日本人で好きな写真家はいますか?



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