Photography retrospective looks at beauty of world
By Jacob deNobel and Times Staff Writer
Feb 14, 2015 at 12:00 AM
From the faces of his neighbors in Carroll County to the hands of a cocoa farmer in Odaho, Ghana, photographer Phil Grout said he's interested in capturing the images of humanity wherever he can find them.
Grout, of Finksburg, said he has been working as a photographer since he joined the Navy as a photojournalist in 1966. Grout spent years taking photographs in Vietnam, Japan and elsewhere. Opening Sunday, an exhibition at the Scott Center gallery at Carroll Community College will feature photos taken throughout Grout's nearly 50 year career.
"My father actually planted the seeds for me to want to become a photographer when I was a tiny kid, around 5 years old," Grout said. "He was an amateur photographer, and he took me into the dark room and had me watch him make prints. After that, I was hooked."
Grout said his father gave him his first camera in 1966, and he hasn't slowed down since. Gallery director Maggie Ball said she devised this exhibition as a tribute both to the work of Grout, but also to the art and craft of photojournalism.
Grout said the exhibition has been in the works for several years, but his schedule has finally cleared enough for him to have a chance to participate.
The photographs in the exhibition range from abstract pieces of shadow and light to personalized portraits to landscapes and sunsets. The work encompasses both black and white, and color photography; and images captured on film and with an iPhone. Grout said he appreciates any tool that can help him capture a moment in time.
"I really enjoy using my iPhone. It's just so accessible and so easy, and the number of apps made for iPhones just keeps growing. I've always got my iPhone in my right breast pocket," Grout said. "There's a lot of decent amateur work that's being done with phones and point-and-shoot cameras. Everybody's a photographer now, but not everybody's a shooter."
Grout described the difference by saying that a shooter is someone who will go the extra mile to get in a difficult position for a shot and capture the precise millisecond that makes the difference between a good and great photograph.
"I'm really drawn to the human interest angle, and looking for the things that bind us together as human beings," Grout said. "We have lots more in common in spite of our differences. I'm looking for storytelling pictures; pictures that show the beauty of this Earth."
Grout's work on display features photographs from his world travels, including Sasebo, Japan; Jalapa, Nicaragua; Madras, India; and Port au Prince, Haiti. Despite the number of photographs that highlight Grout's journeys, the show primarily features work in and around Carroll County. Grout said he wants to highlight the beauty of his home as well as every place he's traveled to.
"I just want people to realize what a wonderful beautiful place this is, and maybe also open their eyes to see the developing world a little differently," Grout said. "I would love for people to look at these in a different light. The developing world for a lot of people here is a mysterious place, but I've had the chance to meet a lot of wonderful people."