Born in Salem, the rainy capitol of Oregon, as he calls it, filmmaker and photographer Grant Lemons currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where his sense of adventure awakened. From here, he ventured out into Colorado’s beautiful—and at time mysterious—landscapes of fall and winter.
Lemons majored in journalism at the University of Oregon and plans move to Portland this summer.
A conversation with filmmaker and photographer Grant Lemons
AM Who are you, in a nutshell?
GL I’m a high-energy guy who loves to capture new places and people… all while listening to hip-hop. I try to run whenever possible, too.
AM When and how did you know you wanted to pursue photography?
GL Simply put, making videos drove me to photography. Like many other people in my industry, I obsessed over telling stories with my camcorder at a young age. Over time, as new gear came and went, and I fell in love with the craft of making films and this passion for the technical aspects began to translate to photography. That initial pivot toward taking photos only happened a couple years ago, and now I find that I spend my days doing somewhere around 70% photo and 30% film. The photo bug bit me, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
AM How did you learn to be a photographer?
GL Ironically, I never took a photography class while in school. Instead, I learned about the documentary approach to film and to telling stories the entire time. I really learned photography by spending as much time as possible with people who are ten-times the photographer I am. I went on adventures with them and experienced their differing styles. I’m always looking for more opportunities like that. YouTube tutorials are a plus, too.
AM What inspires your work?
GL My friends, my family, and the everyday environments that I find myself in. I try to find inspiration at every possible turn. Additionally, moving to Colorado spurred a real yearning for adventure within me. It’s a surreal feeling capturing all you can at 10,000 feet and above.
AM What do you hope people experience when they look at your photography?
GL Wanderlust is an overused word for the feeling many people get when looking through photographs. With that being said, what I hope people get out of my work is a sense of exploration in a really broad sense of the word. No matter where you are, there are interesting moments and places to capture. That’s what I seek to do every day when I can, no matter what place I find myself in. I hope when people see my work, they feel motivated to do the same—whether it’s in the city or the mountains.
AM What makes you an alpine modernist?
GL At my very core I am a simple person. I don’t keep many possessions in my orbit, and I enjoy a strong cup of coffee every morning while the sun rises. As it stands right now, my ideal day is an early wake up at 5:00 AM, heading west to the Rockies, and snow-shoeing in fresh powder to capture the early morning light shining on the mountains.
AM What do the mountains mean to you?
GL Growing up in Oregon, we held the mountains we do have in the state with high esteem—and we do have some remarkable peaks. When I visited Colorado for the first time the enormity and sheer amount of peaks that surrounded me blew me away. Here in Colorado, the mountains represent everything that is good in life, and it would be hard to escape them. Having the wild right at my doorstep with the Rockies took things to the next level for me, and the mountains are a constant blend of fun, adventure, and wonderment.
AM What is special about photography in the mountains?
GL Unlike other environments or subjects, time moves differently in the mountains. On one hand, I feel acutely aware of time and its shifting presence on the landscape in front of me. On the the other hand, I have no grasp on how time is moving when I begin to get in the flow of it all. Hours peel away. It’s both a calming and challenging experience when considering the conditions that can come up in the winter, too. A lot of paradoxes, to be certain. It’s one of the most rewarding landscapes to conquer and capture.
AM What’s your favorite place in the world?
GL At this point in my life, Portland is my favorite place in the world. An energy kicks into my system every time I touch down there, and it’s stacked to the brim with people creating cool things. I really feel like I’m a part of the city in every way. My hometown of Salem, Oregon, is on the come-up, so I have to give it a big shout out too.
AM What are you working on these days?
GL I’m prepping to capture a short music tour in Europe in March. Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to have extra time to work on passion projects, which coincidentally, leads me to the mountains. I’m trying to use every day as an opportunity to capture a different Coloradan moment as my time to move away approaches. I’m really thankful to be around for another (somewhat) snowy winter. △