Photo taken by Cole Ellison.

Photo of myself taken by Cole Ellison.

My freshman year at Syracuse has come to an end, and summer has begun. 

VSCOIf you wanna catch up with what I’m working on VSCO is the place to go. Or my daily updated Instagram, but Instagram is well, gramish as usual. This post is partially a follow up to Month I, where I discussed how the iPhone (as much as I dislike that piece of crap), has opened my eyes. That opinion, has only gotten stronger. To me, photography has become about capturing a moment in time, a place, an environment, or the essence of a person. Moments can be provoked, or found, but regardless with my phone in hand I seek to expose life through a grittier digital medium. Something a little more raw, with the aura that noticeable digital pixels give you.


A day in Pleasure Bay.

I might even go as far to say that smartphones more accurately document this era, because of the fact that they have been so extensively integrated into global culture. Everyone constantly holds a smartphone, or some kind of phone that can take pictures. That being said, everyone has their own philosophy and process, mine just happens to include exploring the world around me with a simple camera, low res camera–for the time being. More importantly, many of my images on VSCO could have never been shot with any other camera other than a smartphone. (Yes, I lust over the Leica T, we all do.) However, the iPhone is the tool I have.

Subway Life.

Afternoon with Kylie.

Walking through Fort Point.

Some might say my development from 1950s analog cameras, to the FM2, to years of working with a DSLR, to the . . . iPhone, is a huge step backwards. That maybe so, but exploration is learning. Learning is progression.

Squares Promo

Squares. This film was my final project for my academic semester, and served as another experimentation for pushing the limits of narrative–seeing what the audience can take away from such a blunt, and at times two-dimensional film. 

While I currently work at Elevin Studios, in South Boston, making a commercial documentary series for Eric Levin, experimental narrative film is where I hope to go in my future journeys. Click the cover image above to see the film, or visit my vimeo page here–enjoy! Until next time.


Month 1.

Today roughly marks the day that I have been in the smartphone world for one month. Back in december I received one as a gift–and at the least, this gift has opened my eyes. I’ve made it clear through my voiced opinions, in some my video work, that I am partial to smartphones. That mentality hasn’t changed entirely, but it’s changed enough to write about it. That change can be summed up in two words: the camera.

2:32. © Eliot J Grigo

2:32. © Eliot J Grigo

Cameras on smartphones, in the past year, have made an enormous leap–including the technology with editing on smartphones. Apps such as Afterlight, VSCOcam, and many others have allowed pretty much anybody to make their photos look better. I’m not saying photography is dead, or that smartphones have taken over the world of photography–they clearly haven’t. That being said, they have changed the game, and they provide valuable lessons even for pro DSLR shooters.

Structure of Self. © Eliot J Grigo

Structure of Self. © Eliot J Grigo

My work is gradually moving more into the film world, but every now and then I still take on a photo project. Now with a smartphone in my pocket, my eagerness to grab a hefty DSLR and lenses diminishes (depending on whether I have a client or not). Why? Because I have found that a smartphone camera can “re-open” a photographer’s eyes–especially a portrait photographer.


Destiny. © Eliot J Grigo

A phone camera comes with a few challenges. First, the resolution is by no means close to DSLR standards, so “zooming in” on a smartphone is a poor choice, because it degrades the quality that you’re fighting for. So, you’re left with an ultra-wide lens without a great capacity for shallow depth-of-field. Second, the dynamic range is pretty weak because of the sensor’s size, meaning you can loose a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights. Lastly, it’s easy to shoot too much with a smartphone–what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is not necessarily photo worthy or relevant–but it’s easy to fall into that trap because your phone is basically your life companion.

photo 1

13 Pearl. © Eliot J Grigo

13 Pearl. © Eliot J Grigo

How can you shape the structures around your subject to captivate a viewer who’s scrolling through newsfeed after newsfeed? My point is, intriguing images can be taken with a smartphone, but using a limited tool requires adjusting your eye, and getting maybe even more sensitive to composition.

Nick. © Eliot J Grigo

Nick. © Eliot J Grigo

The Tunnel. © Eliot J Grigo

The Tunnel. © Eliot J Grigo

I’m not saying my phone is my favorite camera of all time, and I’m not going to sell my DSLR and shoot exclusively phone photography. I’m just a firm believer in the idea that the best camera is the one you with you. Regardless of whether you like images from smartphones, they are great tools for scouting, planning future shoots, and testing shooting situations. If you wish to continue to follow my work with the iPhone, follow my Instagram here, or below.



Room W. © Eliot J Grigo

Room W. © Eliot J Grigo

This is my latest journey: I have been accepted into to the Creative Minds in Cannes Film Program, and in May I will be traveling to France to participate in an incredible program that allows me to meet professionals in the film industry, and make a film in seven days with a team of filmmakers from around the world. Once our film is complete we will show it to all of the celebrities and filmmakers at the Cannes Film Festival as a competition. This is a chance to learn, connect, and make films on a higher playing field. It has been one of my dreams to do something like this since the moment I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker–I want to share my visual art with the world. Here’s how to help me accomplish this dream:

1. Click the image right below this list to see the campaign video, and to learn more about what I will be doing in Cannes.
2. Look at some of my work! My latest video is here, and my website has all of my current projects on it and a link to my Vimeo page.
3. Still not convinced? Learn more about the awesome things that the CMIC Film Program does here!

Why Donate?

The simplest answer I have is to support a young filmmaker, who has a determination to create powerful work. I am committed to making films about issues, stories, and people that I genuinely care about–and if I am able to make this journey I can continue doing it on a higher level. Currently I attend Syracuse University, but on scholarship, so my financial situation is not very flexible. If you have the means to donate, please do, I will forever be grateful for your help.

On set shooting ความน่ากลัว ("Khwām ǹā klạw") with Art Parnitudom, Eliot Grigo, and Nick Jarvis. © Joshua Chang

On set shooting ความน่ากลัว (“Khwām ǹā klạw”) with Art Parnitudom, Eliot Grigo, and Nick Jarvis. © Joshua Chang.

Also, if I do go to France, I will be posting daily updates right here on my website, so that I can keep everyone up to date on all the amazing stuff happening during the Cannes Film Festival! So stay posted, and thanks to all who have donated!


This film was shot for Studio Concepts class at Syracuse University, taught by Robyn Tomlin. To view the complete video, click here. Feel free to comment, and share your thoughts of the film. To find out more about the sound design of the piece visit my audio website and click here.

The film was shot in Peekskill, and Syracuse, New York.

In a recently made short video of mine, I explore the concept of how smartphones have social impacts in everyday life. For further explanation on my ideas, read the paragraph below the image–if you would like to watch the short first, click the links or image below.

iSolation. © Eliot J Grigo 2013

iSolation from Eliot Grigo on Vimeo.

We live in a world ruled by its man-made products. The phenomenon of using a smartphone, and having it by your side all of the time, is becoming worrying. In a public setting, if someone is “old-fashioned”, doesn’t own a smartphone, or even simply looking for someone to talk to, they will notice what I mean by this phenomenon being worrying.  When everyone is dissolved into their “my-screen-is-bigger” screens, its as if everyone is alone, even though in this growing world we are surrounded by so many people.

This short film is a true story. These events did happen to me on a bus–yes–in a slightly different way but I’m also willing to bet that’s its a true story for many people. You’re waiting with a group of people for checkout, waiting in a laundromat, flying on an airplane, riding in an elevator–people tune out from you and everyone around them while they tap away at their phones. To me, its a problem, as I hope is clear in the short, where my character chooses to conform and tune out.

The sad truth of it all, is that we all still want to connect–’we never want to be alone’, as Louis C.K. puts it during an interview on Conan. My take on this is that we are not totally “tuned-out”, but just out of sync, and that causes us to become isolated. In my short there is a miscommunication between my character on a bus, and a girl that he tries to communicate directly with; they miss each other, and continue with their lives.

During iSolation when two characters on the bus (played by Eliot Grigo on the left, and Dia Matthews on the right) miss each other’s glance.

What do humans do now? Now that you can’t turn a corner without seeing someone with a slate of aluminum in their hands, what do we do? Have we integrated this technology too closely to our lives–are smartphones playing too big a role? Are they not a problem at all? Please feel free to comment on these questions. Lastly, thanks to all that helped in the creation of this video, and the irony of it all is that you’re probably reading this on your phone while surrounded by other people with phones.

A walk home. © Eliot J Grigo

A walk home. © Eliot J Grigo

En Midsommar Flicka. A short portrait session with Caroline Albertson, 18, inspired by the festivities of the Scandinavians held every year on the longest day: Midsommar, or Midsummer. These photographs follow a young girl walking home from the celebrations like små grodorna, and as many girls do, she picks her seven flowers that will allow her to dream of the man she will one day marry. All images © Eliot J Grigo.

© Eliot J Grigo

First Flower. © Eliot J Grigo

Forest Light.

Forest Light. © Eliot J Grigo

Chapel Dreams. © Eliot J Grigo.

Chapel Dreams. © Eliot J Grigo.

Butterfly. © Eliot J Grigo.

Skymning. © Eliot J Grigo

© Eliot J Grigo

For the last year or two I have been extensively shooting both family portraits and individual portraits. I am always taking portraits–always. My friends may think that carrying a camera around my neck all of the time is overkill. However, photography is all about intuition. Photography is intuition. When you’re asked to shoot a wedding, if you do not have a intuitive eye and mind, you’ll miss the shot on the biggest day of your client’s life. Intuition is something I’ve been able to cultivate in this respect of photography.

Katie and Tyler kiss in a three-wheeled scooter during their after party at their parents scooter rental business. They were married June 29, 2013.

Katie and Tyler kiss in a three-wheeled scooter during their after party at their parents scooter rental business. They were married June 29, 2013. © Eliot J. Grigo

The shot, could be any moment. Many people argue it’s the kiss during the ceremony, but I would disagree. It’s the moments when the bride and groom are not “putting on a show” for their friends and families, but rather when they escape the waves of relatives and get some one on one time. Such as the image above, when the bride and groom snuck away from the crowd and spent a moment together. Regardless, a separated photo shoot is key in my “during” workflow.

© Eliot J. Grigo

© Eliot J. Grigo

The bride and groom are not the only ones on stage–so are the families. The mother of the bride will obviously want to see beautiful pictures of her daughter on her special day, but also a great picture of herself–after all she did get a new dress for this event too! Below are some select candids shot at the last two weddings I’ve shot.

Photography is my world, together we can document you’re special day–visit my contact page for wedding photography inquiries. All images © Eliot J. Grigo.


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