Shelly Grimson, self portrait, probably 1968-1970

Shelly Grimson, self portrait, probably 1968-1970

Shelly Grimson is a photographer based in Toronto, Canada.

Using film cameras and printing techniques, his subjects include portraits, streetscapes and landscapes.

His upcoming show, When Kids Were Wild, will feature wet, fibre based prints, printed by Shelly in a traditional darkroom and archivally processed for permanence.

They are in an edition of 11 only.

Artist’s Statement

I’m an impossibly sentimental person. I always loved photographs that touched me. When I went to the National film board and met Lorraine Monk and Ron Solomon they gave me the light to aim for: The emotional and personal qualities of the photographer should be apparent in the images. That’s been my yardstick.

Another keystone was the comment by the great portraitist Phillippe Halsman who said that he wanted his presentation of the subject to be the one that stayed in one’s mind whenever they recollected that man or woman. I guess that was a humble way of saying what we now call ‘iconic’ presentation.

I got into photography indirectly. As a boy I was constantly drawing with a pencil and had my share of teachers’ irritation with me over the issue. I never have lost my love of drawings but have never done it professionally. I went to black and white photography instead. I poured over every book and magazine from the age of seventeen and dreamed of being one of these artists. I sold my target rifle and got a 35 MM camera and never felt the transition. For some reason it was part of the same discipline for me.

On graduation from University of Toronto in sociology I had a decision to make. The wave of post modernism was sweeping the art world and I felt overwhelmed with the feeling that I could never survive with my conventional bent in that scene. I went into law studies and practiced criminal defence for about 24 years and put the camera to the side.

In 2003 I found my cache of negatives from as far back as 1965 and decided to make contact sheets. I found the Poet series I did for Oxford in 1970 and finally had my first show, and the rest is history.

Shelly Grimson, Toronto Archives, 2019. Photo credit: Janice Weisfeld

Shelly Grimson, Toronto Archives, 2019. Photo credit: Janice Weisfeld