Art, Artists, Influencing Me, Photography

Influencing Me – Joel Grimes

Joel Grimes is an artist and photographer that I have know about for a while, but not thought too much about, then recently I saw a workshop that he was doing and it completely changed my ideas about him and his work. I don’t want to imitate Joel, but I like the way he does some things and certainly would like to see if I can incorporate some of them into my own work.


Images like this are perhaps what Joel is best known for, these very stylised images of sports people.  I knew that he did HDR images, but had no idea how the images were put together, and it is perhaps this aspect that intrigued me the most.


Many, or most, of his shots are composites.  The athlete or subject is photographed in the studio and then he puts them onto another background.  He has a very special way that he does his lighting, and he does use studio lighting for these.  I think they are fantastic, though I don’t have studio lighting, and am not likely to get it, I think you can still learn a lot.

joel_grimes_3In the workshop he talked a lot about creating “the fake”.  I found this really inspiring, how to put these images together so they appear realistic.  Most of you know that I have been wanting to do composites for a while, and I learned so much from him.  He made me realise that I already have the skills to do them, I just need the courage to start.

grimes005Perhaps one of the best new skills I learned from him was photo retouching.  As many of the models I photograph are teenagers, they nearly always have some sort of acne.  Now I can help them get that beautiful skin.

grimes016Watching how he took the portraits was amazing too.  He is right in the face of the subject.  He shoots many of his portraits with a wide angle.  I found that really interesting.  I think I am going to have to try this more.


Joel also talks a lot about being an artist and how that is different to being a photographer.  He describes himself as an artist, and his medium is photography.  I know that is how I feel about what I do as well.  I have tried to explain that before, but didn’t do it very well, so with Joel’s help, I think I might attempt it again.

Joel at work.

Joel at work.

I love what he says in the beginning of his about page, “For me life is art. The passion to create is not just an option, but built into my very DNA. Art is not simply defined by the end product, but by the process one pours into the very art of creating.”  For me, this is exactly how I feel.  If I could not take photos, then I would be drawing, painting, creating images anyway I could.  If I am not creating, then I am not a happy person.

Joel does other images as well, but they are all in the same style.  He said in the workshop that we should all develop our own style and stick with it, that we would become known for that style.  I like that concept, and it is something that I am definitely going to be working on this year.

Joel has a great website and you can see so many more of his images there, the website is Joel Grimes and I would encourage you to go and take a look.  On his website there is also information about him, and workshops that he takes.

Here is a gallery with the many different types of images he takes.  This is a small selection of what you can find on his website.  I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Joel for giving me permission to feature him on my blog. Thanks Joel.


  1. He says he has a style and I can see that but at the same time there is so much variety. I love the statements about art versus photography. I’m glad you are going deeper and deeper with this, Leanne, as you really are an artist.

    I am hoping that with my next book I will have finally found my “voice” as we call it in writing. And that I can understand what it is and build on it.

    I think you have a pretty clear idea of what you think is your style. I am not yet clear on mine, for writing. Writing with John has been a huge help to me because he got me to loosen up from too many “rules”. I also I am writing about what I’m really passionate about, finally. So I feel like there is some voice coming out now.

    • That is so true Nia, there is a lot of variety, but all very much his style. I think it is important to make the difference, that just because you take a photo doesn’t necessarily makes it art. I think I am too, I feel like an artist.

      That is a great thing to do Nia, find your voice and do it in your style. I think it is important for artists/writers to do that. It is all about creating.

      I know what I like, and I think I am definitely starting to work out my style, still not totally there, but love where I am going. I can understand how working with someone else would give you inspiration, and sounds like your trip to Australia was really good for you creatively, which is fantastic. Sounds like a win win for you.
      Can I say on separate note, Klara got into Creative Writing at RMIT, a very hard course to get into, so I think she is on her way to being a writer too.

      • Hi Leanne!

        That is fantastic about Clara! I am very happy for her. I envy her starting out so young with such an excellent program. But I am thrilled!


      • Hi Nia, it is good, and I feel the same way, I wish I had got an opportunity like that when I was her age, who knows what I would have done, or where I would be now.

      • It’s interesting you say that. Hubby and I were just talking about how different it is for our son who had the benefit of our support, compared to hubby. He is in engineering. I will tell you that he came out of the gate at top speed. Has his masters degree and a day job and is working a second shift on his own invention which he crowd funded through kick starter. My point is that Clara is going to benefit not only from starting early and from your support but from the far more open world of publishing. I’m really pleased and excited for her.

      • That is very true, I am sure Klara will do very well as she is starting so young. I think also the course she is doing, which is supposed to be the best in these parts, will introduce her to the world of publishing and no doubt she will meet many people who will help her. I am excited for her as well, well for both of them, but I have to tell you, Klara is so excited she is finding it hard to contain.

      • I’m thrilled for Klara. (That’s a nice spelling, with the K.) Her excitement is a key indicator this is a great path for her. And what you say is true about the contacts she will make in addition to honing her talent. I can’t wait to follow her progress and career.

  2. His images are amazing. It takes a great deal of talent to take those type of pictures plus that editing a new background and have it look realistic is not easy at all.

  3. Joel’s work is phenomenal…. As a hobbyist I can truly appreciate the eye and the art form that Joel does oh so well……….

    • I totally agree, it really is phenomenal. I think he does an amazing job, he really knows what he is after.

  4. Thanks, Leanne, for bringing this very talented artist-photographer to my attention. His work is stunning – I’m off to take a look at his website.

    • It is an absolute please Sue, I really like how he works and what he produces, so it was wonderful that I was given an opportunity to show the work to you.

  5. I saw some of the shows on the Framed Network on YouTube that Joel Grimes had done. His philosophy and work are amazing!

    • I haven’t seen those, but if they are like the ones I saw then they would be fantastic. Must see if I can find them. I agree about his work and definitely about his philosophy.

  6. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    Life really is art. You can’t find one thing that doesn’t have something to do with art. My youngest daughter and her partner (I don’t like the word boyfriend) are both art professors and we have had discussions about every aspect of art. Besides teaching at a university, my daughter makes prints where she gets the thick, black ink all over her hands. Art is amazing. One of her professors gifted her a picture he made and she left it with me temporarily. I walk past that several times a day and see something new in the picture all the time.

    I understand exactly what Joel is talking about when he says it’s in his DNA – it is no exaggeration. Joel, like my daughter and her partner and all their artist friends are unique beings.

    In this post I do love the header of the runner, he puts power on canvas, so to speak. My next choice would be the man with the cane. I could look at that as I pass many times as well, to look at the books and wonder.

    The print of the aloe plant reminds me of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works. Here is a quote I gave my daughter a couple of years ago:

    “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

    Thank you!

    • Thank you Jackie, what you have said here is fantastic. Joel says everyone is an artist, but I don’t believe that, I believe some people are born to be artists, and other will spend their lives aspiring to be. I really hope that I am the first one. I can’t live without creating, it consumes my every waking hour, and into my sleep. I see images everywhere, and I am constantly planning what I will do next. It sends shivers up and down my body when I think about how important it is to me. I have lived without art and I was a very unhappy person, when I started creating, the world around me started to shine.

      I love that quote there by Geogia O’Keeffe, I will have to look her up. Thank you for that.

      • apart from another great blog post Leanne I love this reply to Jackie about how you feel about being an artist … it really sings to me :-)

      • Thanks Poppytump, it is a funny thing being an artist, it really is part of who I am. :) That is wonderful that you feel the same way.

  7. I can absolutely see why he inspires you! The variety of his work, yet the vision that runs across them, is really grand!

    • I can imagine that many people find him inspiration, and he is also a very nice person, and not too full of his own self importance, you have to love people like that.

  8. Darrell Curtis says

    Wonderful post and thanks for sharing your thoughts on your artistry. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, so to speak, about photographic art — especially in this age of digital manipulation. It is even more important to master your technique BUT also to clarify your vision. I’ve seen digital photography grow from infancy and can tell you, a poorly composed shot, and then even more poorly lit and tweaked, sticks out like a sore thumb. Grimes’s work has a hyper-real element that I enjoy, even though I am not a sports fan. Using that HD format requires even more attention to detail…and the vision. I encourage you to dive deeper in the medium since you’ve no small mastery of photography and your vision and execution thereof it strong enough to help you succeed. Looking forward to seeing your work continue to grow…

    • No thanks needed for that Darrell, I have to say I really agree with everything you have said here. To be able to manipulate a photo or image, the original has to be a good quality first. Attention to detail is very important and understanding how to do the fake. Thank you, I am looking forward to seeing where it goes as well.

  9. Darrell Curtis says

    Reblogged this on The Road goes ever on and on… and commented:
    Fellow blogger Leanne Cole makes some excellent points in her post about Joel Grimes and his influence on her craft. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

    • I don’t know that I would either Dawn, but it is amazing what you can learn, and what you pick up from seeing people like Joel work. It does have an influence on you.

      • What is cool is where that takes you. all of it takes you somewhere. You might not recognize it at first but every encounter is a chance for growth if you let it. It is one of the amazing things about photography, for one.

  10. Great to see the compositions of such a talented photographer! Kudos to you as well, Leanne! Thanks so much!

  11. I’ll be interested where you go with this now you’ve spent some time learning from Joel, Leanne. I’m looking forward to more amazing photos.

    • It should be really interesting. I am kind of excited about where I am going to go with it all, fun times ahead.

  12. lmarea3070 says

    Leanne you already have a style! I think we are always our hardest on ourselves. But we always evolve over time.

    • I think you might be right about that. It is funny, a few people have said that, and I know it is true, but I am not sure what it is, haha, I know it doesn’t make sense. You are very right about that last part, we do evolve, which is probably why I find it hard to think I have a style, I feel it is always evolving.

      • lmarea3070 says

        You tend to be a perfectionist. If you’re like me you see a style you like and get excited about it and want to learn it. It’s a process.

      • It is funny you saying I am a perfectionist, I don’t think I am, and I tend to use the excuse, oh, it is art and art isn’t perfect, hahaha, but I can see how I probably could be as well, I haven’t got that perfect style yet for me. Interesting idea. I do excited, often it is some part of the processing that I think I can incorporate into my own. It is a process, I hope it never stops.

  13. Thanks for the introduction to his work. I’m happy to be a voyeur on your journey to discover the style that represents your vision of the universe.

    • What a lovely thing to say Sally, thank you so much for that. I am glad you like the introduction, he has some great things to say as well.

  14. This was an informative and enjoyable post. I learned a lot. Most of all, though, Joel’s words of encouragement to you to “have the courage to start” sum it all up nicely. It seems to me, from your pictures so far, you’re already on your way.

    • What a lovely thing to say, I do feel like I am on my way, and great that others can see that as wekk, Joel is very encouraging, and I suspect a great person.

  15. Jenny Overton says

    I like his work too. I’m drawn to his tones and bold and strong colors. This is why I like your work Leanne. :)

    • That is interesting Jenny, I would have thought that I work differently, but maybe it isn’t as different as I thought. :)

  16. Wow, what amazing photos … and an amazing artist. That top photo is my favorite and I can understand why it’s his most famous. Like the jumping girl too and the Subway photo. I can understand why you are influenced by Joel.

    • They are a great way of doing images, not sure I would do them exactly the same way, but it is interesting. I like some of the things that he does, and I know I will incorporate many of those things into my own work, but I have to say, it is work philosophy that I love the most.

      • Remarkable photos … I’m sure you will get your head around how to use his influence in your work. It’s not about copying or being a copy cat .. it’s to pick the best out of the best and make it to our own, same with cooking. *smile
        Because everything comes from somewhere … the way to take photos and recipes.

  17. Amazing photos! I like the comment about being an artist and photography is the medium. That’s a different way for me to think about photography. Of course it is artistic…but I’ve never equated photography to the concept of medium, like oil paints or watercolors…broadened my horizon! Thanks for sharing! ~ Sheila

    • You are welcome Sheila, photography should be thought of as another way to create images like painting or drawing. It is something I feel very strongly about.

  18. I know I am in the minority with a reaction that while I appreciate how good they are, the style doesn’t speak to me personally.

    • That is a perfectly fine answer Colonialist, I don’t have a problem with that either. I am not sure I would ever do work like this, but I love his philosophy on his art practice, for me that speaks to me more than his work.

  19. Superb post. I have come across Joel Grimes’ work before and found it most inspiring (as I find your work most inspiring as well!). I am looking forward to seeing your future composite work and working more with wide-angle.

    Brilliant entry indeed. Best wishes,

    Smiling Toad

  20. Thanks for this intro to Joel.
    Yes, you are both artists with beautiful work!

    • You’re welcome LB, he is a great photographic artist, and I was so happy he agreed to let me do a post on him. What a lovely thing to say, thank you so much.

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