I have a passion for creating images. I really don’t know where it came from as it came out of nowhere. There is no famous visual artist on either side of my family that I am aware of. This passion began in the late seventies, a couple of years after I purchased my first camera. I went through the typical learning process of shooting plenty of film, attending lectures and workshops, critiquing images with friends and devouring every book and magazine about photography that I could get my hands on. But even before photography, I was keenly interested in the natural world. From my childhood years of playing outdoors to my academic training in the biological sciences, my penchant for things natural had been well established. The marriage of photography and nature was a natural one, so to speak.
As I enter my twentieth year as a full-time visual artist, I appreciate all the more the opportunity to produce beautifully crafted books and fine prints from my natural photography. There is something very special in turning a page and seeing a beautiful image well printed, in feeling the tactile nature of quality paper, in the aroma of fresh ink. I have produced a number of pictorial books about different regions of this great country and these books serve as part of my legacy. As an artist, my focus is to capture the beauty of Canada in evocative images that reflect the beauty and essence of this great land, and to share it with others to remind us all of the importance that a healthy environment brings to the richness in our lives.
My latest book, Mike Grandmaison’s Ontario, is a culmination of years of learning, growth and experience. Ontario is the place I lived for the first half of my life and where I still go to frequently, for work, for play and to visit family and friends. This collection of photographs represents years of travelling and experiencing the landscape on land and on water. It is a province of remarkable beauty and diversity, of iconic landmarks as much as it is a place of seldom seen little gems.While we are often drawn to the “big landscape,” the intimate views and close-ups are often the ones that reveal the inner beauty and true character of the land and its inhabitants. Often these more personal views capture the essence of a place much more effectively and with more emotion, such as tiny details of a wildflower revealing delicate complexities within, or an intricate pattern of lichens colonizing a rock that has been displaced. I often wait for the right light to bathe my subject with the golden light of morning and/or evening. While a particular scene may attract me one day, I am just as likely to pass by it the next day if the conditions are not right for me and vice versa. Working days tend to be long when you rise an hour or more before the sun in order to be in position as the first glow of light floods the skies with that ephemeral and exquisite light we photographers so desperately try to capture. For me this is the most peaceful time of day, my time to commune with nature, to be in a place that nourishes my soul. If the day wasn’t long enough already, after all the driving and hiking, countless hours may be spent imaging the heavens along with the moon rises, the Milky Way, the stars and comets, and the dazzling northern light displays that completely take your breath away. In some small way, I feel that I have travelled my own Camino, completed my own pilgrimage, simply from the accumulated footprints I have made in this province over the course of several decades.
I have always wanted to produce a book about my home province and I am grateful for this opportunity. Because of the visual nature of this book, it would be pointless to try and describe the places I have been to and experienced without seeing the images so I will leave it up to you to do so one fine evening, perhaps with soft music in the background by the fireplace with a freshly brewed cup of fine coffee or glass of wine. While a photograph can never replace the act of experiencing the natural world itself, it is “Yours To Discover”!