When award-winning photographer Kristopher Grunert wanted to start creating work as NFTs, we were ecstatic. Based in Canada, Kristopher has been active for well over twenty years in commercial photography as well as fine art. We caught up with Kristopher in anticipation of his first drop on Ephimera – a collection of three photographs navigating light and landscapes.
Ephimera: Tell us a bit about yourself, how long have you been creating images for?
Kristopher: I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, that my family has harvested for over 130 years. For those who don’t know, Saskatchewan is the Canadian province above North Dakota, USA. The land is vast and super flat, with wide open skies. It’s a land of extremes – super hot summers and double digit subzero arctic winters. It’s dubbed The Land of Living Skies, and for good reason. You could regularly see the Aurora Borealis throughout the year. In the summers, you could watch massive clouds pile up to form the nightly thunderstorms. When I was 3 or 4, I recall staying up and sitting with my family, looking out the big picture window watching the lightning. I was a bit afraid of the loud thunder, and my Dad said, “don’t worry, that’s just God up there moving his furniture around.” I think I believed him. I figured that if that big sound is him moving things around, then maybe those flashes were him taking photographs. [Laughs] I just remembered that now.
Every morning for 13 years, I walked down to the end of our driveway to wait for the schoolbus. Standing at the intersection, I could look in either direction down the road and not see the end. The roads were so straight. They were endless. While waiting, I would watch the airplanes fly high overhead leaving their contrail. I’d wonder who those people were and where on Earth they were going. I became a bit of an outlier. In high school, I was this farm kid skateboarder. I couldn’t wait to move out west to Vancouver so that I could skateboard all year around. That’s where I discovered and studied photography in college. It really wasn’t until I was finally able to leave that I could appreciate its beauty fully and realized how the stark landscape shaped my vision and formed the curiosity that has driven my photography.
After graduating from college with a photography diploma, I started working for a very busy
architectural photographer. I had no time for myself other than evenings. I feel in love with the
night and the man-made light within it. I was drawn to parts of the city that were often
overlooked, empty parking lots and industrial areas. I found beauty in the light and a fascination with the structures. I saw viaducts as great monuments and light standards in the fog as constellations. I would follow my intuition and bathe in the wonder. Photography has always allowed me to explore. I’ve been making pictures for 24 years now. The journey is far from over. It always feels as though it is just beginning.
Ephimera: What was behind the decision to jump into NFTs?
Kristopher: Without a doubt, it was the NFT community on ClubHouse that inspired me to make the jump. I don’t think I’ve witnessed any other community that is so supportive and generally just so passionate and appreciative about creativity. It’s very exciting to share my work with what seems like a whole new generation of collectors. I definitely resonate with DeFi. I am also so amazed by the technology behind NFTs and the blockchain. There is no doubt this is the beginning of a new era. I feel very fortunate to be here now and bear witness to its birth.
Ephimera: Tell us about the work you’ve decided to mint as NFTs.
Kristopher: I can honestly say that I have been working on this series for 20 years; however, not in a linear sequence. These three images are my most personal, my most prized.
In Ascension of Dumont Dune, I entered the frame and became the light as I climbed the
mountain of sand. This was not the first time I entered my pictures with a flash, but this was the first time I captured a linear path entirely in one frame. Movement has played an essential role in my work since 2001, but prior to this, the journey was communicated in a series of pictures as my camera moved from point A to point B.
Vertical Sync is a continuation of this movement of light. This image is a reminder to me that it
cannot be done alone. Collaboration is key to growth. I created this image with a couple of close friends Jono Plashkes and Geordi Milne. It would not have been made without them. Although Genesis represents the very beginning, this is my most recent picture, which I made on the shore of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Ephimera: What is it about the photographic process that is so spiritual to you?
Kristopher: In my early works, I would use my medium format Hasselblad to create long exposures of the scene in front of me, usually 10-30 second exposures. My process is quite meditative. Through fascination, deep appreciation, and growing understanding of light and space, I quickly and easily enter the zone or flow state, feeling completely connected to the world around me. When taking photographs, time seems to dissolve. I become aware of everything around me. I position myself at one particular point to best harness the energy within the scene. Once the composition is fine-tuned, I take a breath and open the shutter. I consciously visualize the light entering the lens, traveling through the aperture, into the camera, onto the CCD sensor, and recording on its circuits. By connecting to the scene on an atomic level, I feel as though I am nurturing a relationship with the light. By acknowledging the beauty in front of me, I become one with the scene and connect to something infinitely larger than myself.
I simply want to share my appreciation with the viewer to inspire them. I want you to imagine
yourself there, feeling as I did when making the photograph – that sense of connection to a vast
source of unlimited energy.
Ephimera: In your work, we noticed an ongoing theme of directing light as the focal point of the images (marking your way in “Ascension of Dumont Dune”, and capturing unity in both “Vertical Sync”and “Genesis”. What is it about controlling the light that’s important? Why have you chosen it as your primary subject?
Kristopher: I’m just so enamored by it. I always have been. Your questions are taking me back. I have this other memory from childhood, probably around the same age. I was maybe 3 or 4 when I was by myself, laying on my stomach digging in the dirt with a screwdriver. It was one of those multi-bit screwdrivers that hold all the bits in the handle. It was a translucent ruby red plastic screwdriver. I remember the light from the Sun making it glow. I was amazed by it as the light was shining through the screwdriver, causing it to glow and project onto the soil. The ground and everything around me felt so warm. I was so comfortable, so happy, so safe, just exploring the Earth with this glowing screwdriver. I fell asleep on the ground in a complete state of awe and exploration. Perhaps I’m still dreaming.
Ephimera: In your Ephimera bio, you mention, “People rarely appear in my personal pictures. I choose to leave that space for the viewer”. To us, it feels like there is a human element in these images, through the way you have directed light. Would you say that the light painting in your
photographs are your way of connecting your audience to the scene?
Yes, definitely. I use light to connect with my audience. Not only do I want to connect, but I also
communicate through my images. I see light as a language and feel as though I am a medium
through which light speaks. After capturing these images, I spend hours upon hours looking at
them and refining them. In this process, my perspective broadens yet is also refined. I realize
that sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but it’s kind of like defining infinity. To me, these pictures
are some sort of key that decodes a message- not just for me, but for the world.
There is much more to come. This is only the beginning.