I've Done a Lot of My Dream Shoots Already
Grant James-Thomas is a fashion photographer from the UK working in London and New York. Grant has started his career very young, at the age of 17 he had traveled to shoot his first editorials. He is highly passionate about his work and enthusiastic about horse-riding, cooking, and writing. The extent of the commitment to a project manifests itself at times even in dreams.
Grant sets his values for success with a viewpoint highlighting that to achieve a great shot, a photographer should have freedom and trust from the client to create, and a personal desire to enable an environment in which any opinion on set counts. Having accomplished some of his big dreams, Grant is turning towards fashion film, examining an additional medium in an ongoing experimenting approach to his work.
FROM STRONG PORTRAITS UNCOVERING THE PERSON'S INNER BEAUTY TO EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPES AND BREATHTAKING SCENERY WHICH OPENS UP A FRAME TO THE UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES TO EXPLORE GRANT ENABLES A VIEWER TO BECOME A PART OF THE STORY. ALWAYS PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES TO THE EXTENT OF ERASING EVERYTHING ACHIEVED TO BUILD A NEW VISUAL ADVENTURE, REDEFINING HIS SKILLS, GRANT LEAVES AN IMPRINTED MEMORY AND A FEELING TO STAY.
What being a photographer is for you, what is it about?
I guess photography for me is a vehicle to experience things, I mean it gives purpose to exploring and doing anything because you might stumble across something to capture or something might give you a hint of inspiration.
"I WAS SO, SO, SO, SO FORTUNATE TO START THE WAY I DID BECAUSE I WAS GIVEN SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY AND I WASN'T THAT TALENTED, I WAS JUST YOUNG"
How did it all start, and how do you feel your priorities and passion in photography changed with time?
I was signed to a big agency when I was really young, I was 17, and it was all a big whirlwind or a snowball. I was so, so, so, so fortunate to start the way I did because I was given so much opportunity and I wasn't that talented, I was just young. But I also didn't really have the chance to experiment and make a lot of mistakes on my own, so when I was making mistakes it was on editorials which were annoying for me, but you have to make mistakes, I really believe that you learn more from doing the wrong thing than you do by doing the right thing. I'm not sure how much my priorities have changed, I've always wanted to create good work more than I've wanted to make money. My passion changes over time and I fall in and out of love with photography, but I always come back to it after a short affair with something else like horse riding or writing or sometimes cooking, I get very very obsessive with the things I'm passionate about to the extent where I can't think of anything else, and I dream of my passions every night.
What is the most fascinating location you have traveled to and the most fascinating or touching story you can share about this trip?
I've been to so many amazing places for shoots it's hard to pick out one exact place that was more fascinating or touching than the rest.
You had this experience of shooting a short fashion film. Do you see yourself working with this medium in the future?
Yes, I made a short fashion film in Utah for Conde Nast Traveler, I really, really enjoyed this. I'm actually planning a project now where I'll hopefully be making another fashion film. It's an interesting process because it's kind of the same foundation as making a good photo but slightly different. I feel like shooting on film has taught me a lot of skills that will hopefully translate into moving image, being really decisive and exact, knowing when to stop and when to keep going.
Do you think it is possible to find the same kind of creative freedom with commission project as is always available with personal ones?
Yes, I'm sure, it's just about finding the right people to shoot for, some clients are so open, I think you have to be if you want a photographer to produce good work, you need to give them space.
Tell about your hometown. Do you think the place you spend your childhood has affected the way you perceive the world and the people you meet while traveling?
I grew up on a farm, our nearest town was around 10 miles away. I spent a lot of time alone, a lot of time horse-riding, and a lot of time exploring. I think everyone's upbringing shapes their perceptions. I think riding so much taught me a lot of self-discipline and grit, I think grit is one of the most important things to have in order to be successful.
"I REALLY NEED TO SHOOT SOMETHING I'LL BE PROUD OF, OR MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE"
Describe yourself in two words.
What is your dream shoot, and where do you see it happening?
I've done a lot of my dream shoots already, I think a safari shoot was a big dream for me, that was really special. I really want to do a road trip shoot with a small team, this is a dream for me. Maybe if I learn to drive, it can happen sooner rather than later.
How do you approach working with models? Do you stay close throughout the shoot to the initial idea or do you tend to improvise with postures and directions you give?
It's always different, I think, it just depends on the dynamic and how you fit together.
There is some kind of happiness and ease that passes through the characters you photograph. What sets the mood during the shoot?
I really want for everyone on my shoots to be happy and chill, but also for them to be able to be really honest, I don't want anyone to hold their tongue if they don't like something. I'm not precious about my work whilst I'm creating it, I only want it to be the best it can be, and I'm always open to the idea that my opinion is not always the best.