Karl Grenet | Mentee in Focus
Karl Grenet recently completed two photography workshops and mentorship programs at Contact Sheet. In this blog we ask Karl, about his photographic practice and his personal journey.
What was your first camera?
My first camera was a Canon 400D. I got into photography very late at the age of 28, and only started because my friend worked for Canon and was getting rid of his old camera. But once I started, it became an obsession that has stuck with me to today.
Do you remember the first photograph you created? If so tell us about it?
The first photo I made was when I was around 8 years old. It was a photo of my younger brother and my uncle sitting on the couch and chatting. My uncle was generally pretty reluctant to have his picture taken, but for some reason was open to being photographed by me and my brother only. I still have a copy of the photo today, 30 years later!
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a way for me to make sense of the world. It is a way to process my emotions, to communicate without words and show people a part of who I am and how I experience the world. Most recently, while making my project Where The Light Enters, which is an exploration of the deep depression I experienced over 2018-2019, photography became a tool for me to work through my emotions, understand how I was feeling, and was the catalyst for me breaking free of the insidious negative thought patterns that depression brings.
What did you gain most from the mentorship?
The mentorship provided structure, accountability, and expert guidance on the direction I was taking with my work. My project evolved multiple times over the year, and all three mentors I worked with were critical to the evolution of my work as a result of their considered and deep analysis of my work, and the questions they provoked that helped clarify what I wanted to say and how I wanted to present my work.
How was Paul?
I had already completed a six-month mentorship with Paul before starting the Thirteen program, so I knew his working methods and teaching style before starting the mentorship. Though Paul and I work very differently when we create work, I found his methodical & structured approach, and his deep & insightful understanding of art and artistic communication, to be invaluable in guiding me through the development and completion of my project. Not only that, he became a trusted confidant and valued friend in the process, and I still share creative ideas with him to this day.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Playful, intense, compassionate
Who is your favourite artist?
My favourite artist is Masahisa Fukase. Though his career was short, the way he approached his art and used photography as a means to express his emotions has been very influential on my approach to my own work.
What are your other passions outside of photography?
My other main creative passion is music - I DJ and produce downtempo world music and put on parties as part of a Melbourne-based crew by the name of Circadian Rhythms. Otherwise, meditation, spirituality, psychology, philosophy and escaping the city into nature are all good food for my soul.
What influences / inspires your photography?
My photography is influenced by my life - what I am experiencing or feeling, the significant events in my life, and how I interact with the world. I generally don't have a set plan when I start on a project, I just photograph life around me and at some point realise what I've been working on and what I'm trying to say with the work.
What next? Anything planned in 2020?
Now that I've finished my body of work on depression, I am currently developing projects covering other aspects of mental health, and also exploring the subjects of loss, grief, family, solitude, and spirituality. All of these will take some time to develop to a point where I truly know what I'm doing, but I am starting to see patterns and narrow my focus on each project. The rest of 2020 will be a continuation of those journeys and exploration of other parts of myself.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of enrolling into the program, be honest :-)
Come into the program with a loose idea of what you might like to create, but be open to that idea developing, changing, and evolving in ways you might not expect. Try not to have any strongly-defined expectations of the work you will create (or have created so far) and be open to all of the perspectives the mentors provide - some feedback will resonate and some won't, and it's up to you to determine what path your individual work needs to follow to express what you want to say. Play with different concepts & ideas and explore anything and everything you come up with - the right path will come to you if you're open-minded and curious. Above all - enjoy yourself!
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Check out more of Karl's work here http://www.karlgrenet.com/