Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Ted Grant And The Art of Observation – Video Biography and APH Speaker

Growing up and living in the United States, I had never heard of Ted Grant or been exposed to his photojournalism, so I was not really sure who this keynote speaker was at the Association of Personal Historians 2010 Conference in Victoria BC earlier this month. For some reason, his name kept conjuring up the news anchor on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. ( Then I found out I had been confusing the editor, Lou Grant and the anchor Ted Knight and created my own fictional character Ted Grant!)

Considered the father of Canadian photojournalism, Ted Grant is most well known for his image of Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada during the 1970s, sliding down the banister of a hotel stairway as well as runner Ben Johnson taking the gold during the 1988 Olympics.

We were treated to not only meeting Ted Grant, but also watching a video biography created about Ted entitled “The Art of Observation”, written, co-produced and co-directed by Heather MacAndrew for Bravo Canada.
The video was truly a joy to watch. Apart from learning about Ted’s rise through the ranks as a staff photographer to being considered the “father of Canadian photojournalism”, we learned so much more about the personality and vision of someone who sees the world through a camera. Even after illness took away his ability to see through his lens eye, he fought through that painful time to get back on top of his skills and continue to pursue his passion of photography.

After watching the documentary, we had the opportunity to listen to Ted and Heather talk about the making of a personal history and how it developed into this beautifully crafted story. At some point, someone asked Ted how he felt about the going through this process and watching the story of his life and career unfold into something that will surely be passed on to others, shared with young photography and photojournalism students at university, and provide a record of a life, and career, well lived. Ted’s face lit up, he smiled from ear to ear and shared that this process was “pure magic!” You could tell how happy he was to have had this opportunity.

I bought a copy of The Art of Observation and Ted graciously autographed it to my father, Martin Elkort. I plan on watching it another time or two before passing this copy on to my dad but I may have to buy my own copy and as my friend CJ Madigan says in her excellent blog post on the same topic, “watch it more than once. Deconstruct it. Integrate it into your own personal history storytelling, regardless of the medium you work in. And do what you can to get Ted Grant: The Art of Observation into wider distribution.”

You can purchase the video from Ted himself at his website linked above or at the Asterisk Productions website.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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