Robert Greshoff was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He completed a Fine Art degree in photography in 1985 and helped photographers before fleeing apartheid conscription for Europe in 1986. He was entitled to Dutch nationality because his father was Dutch (ironically, he had gone the other way, fleeing from Europe to South Africa in 1939). He could enter the UK, which was part of the EEC at the time. In London, he helped architectural and fashion photographers, set himself up as an editorial portrait photographer in 1988 and began working for architecture clients.
In 2004, Robert moved to Kent where he continues to photograph people and the built environment. His commercial client list is extensive and his work is held in private collections in New Zealand, South Africa, France, Holland, Canada and the UK. He also paints, doing what he cannot do with photography.
“As a professional photographer my work is all about addressing my client’s needs, albeit through my own eye. As a photographer, in general, my interest lies in exploring the built and natural environments without the restrictions of a client or their requirements.
This means that I am aesthetically liberated to work outside the restraints of what others think makes a good image. I photograph whatever I like and however I like, which for me is a freedom I do not have in my normal working day.
I need the outside world to draw from. I am not a concept-driven photographer who uses photography to demonstrate or illustrate some other idea. In this sense my historical roots go back to those European and American photographers working in the early and mid 20th Century and who created the “modern” movement in photography. I believe passionately in the importance of photography as a documentary medium and in its role as a propagator of positive change in the world, either through social or aesthetic commentary.
I very rarely work on 35mm although I still have and very occasionally use my Contax T5. On digital, I use all my work cameras and my phone but I am not really fussed about what camera I use, the one you have with you is always the best one!”
“It is not the language of painters (or photographers) but the language of nature that one should listen to… The feeling for the things themselves and for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.”
Vincent van Gogh
1. TREE IN AN ARC, 2013 Small wonder of the woods.
2. TREES IN MIST, 2013 For many years these woods were overflowing with full grown trees. Then the woodcutters came and coppiced them, leaving a barren landscape but ironically also revealing the few trees that were left. This image is one of a series of mist images I did that year. Mist is curious stuff, it at once flattens and adds perspective. I love that.
3. 4. 7. DANDELION, LEAF and TEASEL, 2020 This year, being unable to photograph for work or get out to photograph for myself, I dusted off the few bits of large-format film camera gear I have left and set about doing plant landscapes (or details) on film, once again discovering architectural form and line in nature. These images are three from this series.
5. MANY TREES, 2011 In 2011 I did many views of trees looking up at their branches. They looked OK, but as images they were somewhat predictable and ultimately disappointing so I never did anything with them. This year and with time to spare, I revisited these images and did to them what I might have done in my darkroom - I put five of six negatives in my digital negative carrier and this is the result. It took a few attempts to get the one I was happy with and although it looks nothing like it did in real life, in a way it feels more like it looked.
6. LAST OF SPRING, 2020 There is a short time in the seasonal cycle where new growth sets itself off against the old. Sometimes, when the place, time and weather conditions are aligned, the new growth just cries out to be seen and appreciated.
8. WOODPILE, 2020 This has been a year of exploring wood piles and I have photographed a great many of them in many different guises but this is one of my favourites. It seems to me to reveal the inner life of trees against a backdrop of their outward existence.