Beyond the Lens: Access ‘Granted’
Going behind the scenes, Outlook explores different types of photography through the lens of photographers. Last week, we carried Tai ‘Images’ Black Girl Magic. This week, it’s all about Access ‘Granted’.
Works of art deserve a good frame. And, through focal diversity, Oneil Grant has framed a name for himself by capturing the hearts of many, one click or flash at a time. Beyond the Lens grants you access into the journey of this lifestyle photographer.
His adventurous story started seven years ago. After leaving his nine-to-five, he realised that it would be pointless to make a living without passion. Photography then became that active channel which provided the solution.
“An opportunity arose with a popular social-media company who was willing to teach me the ropes,” he told Outlook.
Rising to the occasion on every assignment, he found the social photography scene challenging, time-consuming and rewarding. This afforded him a great photography foundation, but Grant yearned for more. Since he is always up for a challenge, he embarked on a new mission to add the new-found passion of entrepreneurship to his pursuits. In his own words, “Becoming a business owner was the challenge I accepted.”
That closed chapter helped him to garner the courage to step out on his own with Oneil Grant Photography. Bursting with excitement at all the subsequent exposure, he describes the dawn of this new era as scary but highly satisfying.
His reason for zooming in on lifestyle photography was this: out of all of the genres, lifestyle has allowed him to meet and form connections with some amazing people. Capturing a story in sequential bursts of his shutter exposes him to another side of humanity not many people get to see.
DEEPER THAN A CLICK
We asked Grant about a few misconceptions he discovered within the field. One which stood out for him, was the fact that many believe photography is just the click of a button, when it goes much deeper than that.
Also, “The camera doesn’t automatically make the photographer: it’s actually the other way around.”
The easiest way he has addressed these and many other misconceptions, is by educating those who cross his path, as best as possible.
The biggest obstacle he faces in the industry, stems from people questioning his worth.
“My skill affords you the opportunity to bring your concepts to life. I know how frustrating it is to be unable to bring an idea to the physical world, especially when it comes to making a single image speak 1,000 words. It not as easy people perceive it to be, and that is why I am here, to take your vision from thought to finish. I think if this was more widely understood, more people would be able to see the value in what I do.”
He pushes forward, basking in the bliss of his grateful clients. Noting that each client and shoot provides a different experience for him, making all memorable in their own right. He recalled a portrait shoot that distinctively moved him. The client expressed that she was not the most comfortable in front of the camera because of existing insecurities. However, as the session went on and I showed her how the images were looking up to that point, she started to break out of her shell and became more expressive with the shoot’s progression. By the time the session was over, it was very clear that it was way more than a mere portrait session. Those moments are the most rewarding for me.”
And while other great photographers locally and internationally inspire him to develop his craft, his greatest motivation comes from his supportive family. They are the driving force, as well as the fuel in his tank, steering him to seek creativity, individuality and innovation. So important are they that he considers family his job outside of photography, “It is very important to me that they get just as much or even more of me outside of my job. Their relationships are the most important to me and I have to be present in order to maintain them. They drive me just as much as I drive them,” he added.
He has recently acquired his own studio by a collaborative effort, named Crash Studios. This space allows him to supply the best experience for his clients while advancing his skills. His advice to aspiring photographers on where to begin is to just start.
Family is my job outside of photography. It is very important to me that they get just as much or even more of me outside of my job. Their relationships are the most important to me and I have to be present in order to maintain them. They drive me just as much as I drive them. The camera I had started with, was a point and shoot that didn’t even belong to me. As cliché as this may sound, hard work and determination are really great assets to have and it will take you far. Remember, the camera doesn’t make the photographer, the photographer makes the camera worthwhile.”