Wandering in the wilderness of his native Tasmania provided a good basis both for Grant’s training as a geologist and his first photographic forays during the 1970s. He then spent several years with conservation organisations working to protect such wild areas, subsequently combining aspects of both by working for the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.
Grant manages to spend part of each year trekking, climbing, skiing and photographing in wild and remote areas of the planet. This arrangement has allowed Grant to explore parts of all seven continents, and many different environments, from the Antarctic to the Arctic, Himalayan summits to a South Pacific island.
Grant’s photographs have been published in magazines, books and other publications internationally, and have also won several awards. He has written a number of illustrated articles on his travels and adventures, his most recent assignment being co-authoring a trekking guide to the South American Andes.
In 1998 Grant travelled to Antarctica as a photographer for the Australian Antarctic Division under the then-titled Humanities Program. His brief included photographing scientists and others at work in Antarctica, as well as landscape and wildlife subjects. Grant has subsequently worked and photographed on the subantarctic islands of South Georgia and Macquarie Island.
Taken with cold climates, Grant Dixon has photographed icy landscapes and mountain ranges globally. Most frequently he captures his home state of Tasmania during his favourite season — winter.
Continental Antarctica is a ‘big sky’ landscape, in the same sense as (say) the hot inland deserts of Australia. Having previously photographed mainly in areas with considerable vertical relief, working in such a context was both different and challenging. Furthermore, the low Antarctic sun angle makes for extended periods with warmer hues. Working to capture this on film as a contrast to the predominantly blue and white public image of Antarctica was stimulating — especially as the most subtle and attractive hues generally occur during the coldest part of the day (or ‘night').
Antarctica may be the ‘last wilderness’ but clarifying what this means relies on the impressions of those privileged to visit and on the information derived from various scientific studies. Part of my brief was to document human activities and this required spending time, in the field and on-station, with a range of scientists and other expeditioners photographing their work, recreation and interaction with the environment. The process of seeing them through the lens necessarily involved several months living with my photographic subjects. During this time it was unavoidable to not appreciate, to some extent, how they saw Antarctica. Both the photographic and personal experiences shaped, and continue to influence, the way I view and interact with other wild landscapes.
Since spending the 1998-99 summer around Casey Station, Grant has continued to seek out cold places to take his camera. This has included four further trips to far southern latitudes, a couple to the far north, and a visit to the slightly more temperate Patagonian icecap. An image from this latter trip won the People’s Choice award at the 2008 Extreme Environment photographic competition.