The greatest photographer you’ve never heard of

Given all we have at our disposal in this Apple/iPhone world in which we live, it’s easy to forget just how much work it used to be to take good pictures.  And it wasn’t even that long ago.

There’s only just now a generation of kids coming through middle school and high school who would have no memory of going with mom and dad to drop off film at a developer, having to run back 90 minutes later to get the prints.

Still, even though most of us remember those good old days of one hour drug store film development, for the vast majority of us, we’ve never really known what it was like to have to work hard to get great prints.

Consider the circumstances navigated by photographers of the early 20th century.  They had to build their entire approach knowing the true color of their work would never be revealed.  It was all black, white, and shades of gray.  Never mind the chemicals and darkrooms they had to master.  By those standards, some phenomenal photographers were immortalized.

Ansel Adams.  Edward Weston.  George Grant.

In photography and videography, there is the rule of threes, and in this case, the third name doesn’t seem to fit with the other two.  At least, for most people.  Because they’ve never heard of George Grant.  He never got credit for a single one of his photos, the National Park Service claimed that credit.

Grant was among the early wave of great photographers to canvass and document the landscape of the American West.  Thing is, he was so driven to get that gig with the National Park Service, he didn’t seem to protest when they required their name be listed instead of his own name.  Grant was so in love with photography, he just wanted to travel the great national parks of our land and take stunning pictures, regardless of who got the credit.

So, he did.  For 30 years.  And seemingly no one knew who he was outside of Horace Albright and the National Park Service … until 60 years after Grant’s death, when a couple named Ren and Helen Davis came along, accidentally stumbled upon Grant’s work, and became determined to tell his story.

Ren and Helen were so infatuated with Grant’s work, they went on to write a book about him, replete with interviews and information from National Park experts, and Grant’s closest surviving relatives, his three nieces.

It was my honor to help encapsulate the visual beauty of that story, as well as the passion of Ren and Helen Davis, to help deliver the untold history of George Grant to readers across the country.  Take 30 seconds to look at Grant’s photos and hear the accounts of Ren and Helen Davis.  You won’t be able to turn away, and I bet you’ll want to see more.

What a pleasure it was to help tell the story of George Grant, through the perspective of Ren and Helen Davis.

View the video for Ren and Helen Davis here.