In Europe and especially France, there’s a humanistic tradition of people like Cartier-Bresson where the most important thing is the people, not so much the environment. I admired it, but I was never linked to it. I was much more interested in all the elements: the decor and the lighting and all the cars: the details were as important as humans. That’s a different attitude altogether.
– Harry Gruyaert
Harry Gruyaert (born 1941) is a Belgian photographer known for his images of India, Morocco, and Egypt as well as of the west of Ireland. Harry covered the Munich Olympics of 1972, the first Apollo flight, and is highly recognized for manipulating colours. His embrace of color photography set him ahead of many contemporaries in Europe at a time when the medium was widely seen as most applicable to the realm of commercial and advertising photography. Born in Belgium, Harry Gruyaert studied photography and film-making. He made a few films as director of photography for Flemish television before turning to color photographs in his adopted Paris in the early 1960s.
In 1969, Gruyaert visited Morocco and later won the Kodak Prize for his work captured there, which was also published in his book, Morocco. By the end of the 1970s, he had traveled to the United States, India, Egypt, Japan, and Morocco. The latter was a revelation to Gruyaert whose images of the country were later published in two different books. In the early 1970s, while he was living in London, he worked on a series of color television screenshots later to become the TV Shots now part of the Centre Pompidou collections. Around the same period, he also photographed his homeland and produced two books, Made in Belgium and Roots. In 1969, Gruyaert visited Morocco and later won the Kodak Prize for his work captured there, which was also published in his book, Morocco.
In 1982, he joined Magnum Photos. Among other important works, the two editions of Rivages (Edges), published in 2003 and 2008, are the testimony of how Gruyaert likes to work in different environments, with contrasting lights and colors. He had a retrospective of his work in Paris in 2015 and is currently working on a major show due to open at the FOMU in Antwerp in 2018. He lives in Paris and is represented by Gallery 51 in Antwerp.
Gruyaert personally found his work was more focused on pop culture than journalism. In his series, TV Shots, Gruyaert made photographs of distorted TV images, covering events including the 1972 Munich Olympics and first Apollo flights, which he finds as the most photojournalistic project he’s produced.