“My intent is not to make my subjects appear beautiful, but to photograph exactly what is there. I am trying to capture an essence of who each subject is – at that moment.”
Sharon’s camera lens acts as a bridge between native and non-native cultures. A daughter of an immigrant and an artist, her personal experiences illuminate her photography. She uses light and shadow, color and silhouette to present individuals straddling two worlds. Her portraits effectively communicate the modern nuances of these indigenous cultures. Through her eyes, we get a glimpse into native communities and ancient traditions intertwined with activities of daily life: running an office, carving a mask or canoe, making ceremonial button blankets, taking care of aging family members, fishing for salmon as generations have done for thousands of years.
For Sharon Eva Grainger, portrait photography is intimate and personal. Before the shutter snaps, Grainger “sees” a vision, an intuitive image of the subject. This happens sometimes days or months before the actual shoot. Once this image is captured in her mind’s eye, Grainger crystallizes this vision with the subject. Grainger’s formal training began with her apprenticeship to the German photographer Uka Meissner-De Ruiz. Her own family background of five generations of artists, including three generations of photographers, provided a firm foundation from which to grow. Sharon currently resides on Lummi Island, traveling and photographing all over the world. Her portraiture of Indigenous peoples is especially well known, having been published in the Time-Life book, Indians of the Western Range, the Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians (12 Plateau) and recently a group of Sharon Eva Grainger's images were paired with Edward Curtis’ images for a slide presentation that accompanied a silent film made by Edward Curtis in 1914. The event traveled from the west coast of the United States to the Midwest and to the East Coast appearing at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; the Moore Theatre in Seattle, Washington; the Chan Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia; the Field Museum in Chicago; the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Sharon has also worked for Lindblad Expeditions for 29 years in a variety of positions. For the last 27 years she has been part of the Natural History staff, using her photography as an educational tool around the world. In 2010, Lindblad Expeditions began a collaboration with National Geographic. One of the goals was to have National Geographic photographers on many Lindblad trips. Another goal was to train the long-standing Lindblad photographers through the National Geographic Society, and begin a program on all LIndblad ships that included certified National Geographic Photography Instructors. Sharon was part of the first group of photographers sent to to National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC for training, to continue using her skills as a photographer and become certified under the umbrella of National Geographic. She has instructed guests aboard Lindblad ships around the world, taking her joy of seeing the world and particularly the many different faces of people and their cultures.