Tom Grill

I have been a professional photographer since the late 1960's. My first professional cameras were the Nikon F (yes, that was before built-in meters) and Leica M2.  I still have them. I still shoot them occasionally.  I love photography as a medium and am caught up in the technical aspects of the craft. I have a belief that photography involves more than "taking" a picture. Clicking the shutter it only the beginning of a process that does not end until an image is finalized to display. That could be in a print, on the internet, in a magazine, even on Instagram. I believe that a photographer must have a clear vision of the end result and the skill to follow through with the entire post-processing aspects of producing an image. Simply put, the "decisive moment" does not end with the shutter click. It begins there and leads through a sequence of events that end in a presentable image.

I love the tools of my trade, the cameras, lenses, software, film, in short everything  that contributes to the end result. Over the years of my professional career I have used several camera systems, each for a different purpose. I always tried to match the correct tool to the job. Primarily, I use Nikon reflex cameras beginning with the F and progressing through every model until the latest D4, D800, and D600. For a brief time, when Nikon was only producing APS sized sensor cameras, I switched to Canon full frame cameras, notably the 1Ds series and its subsequent models. I tried the 5d, too, but found the earlier models severely limiting.

Leica M cameras were always part of my arsenal. Beginning with the M2, I progressed through every model, all the way to the M6 (skipping the M5 for obvious reasons). I reverted to a favorite black painted M4 which I had retrofit by Leica with an M6 viewfinder. It remains my favorite film camera to this day. I now shoot the latest digital Leica camera, the M 240, especially for my travel and landscape photography.

Lately, I have become enamored with the Fuji X-series cameras. They deliver the latest in digital technology and image quality while not losing sight of photography's classic period. They are simply a joy to use.

I also shot medium format beginning with a twin lens Rolleiflex and finally progressing to a Hasselblad.

Much of my professional advertising career was spent in cosmetic photography with models. I did the L'Oreal ads for years, worked for Clairol, Revlon, and many others. Here my camera choice was the Hasselblad. I used the 500 series, primarily with a 120mm lens for beauty shots. With the advent of digital I put a Phase One back on the Hasselblad and continued using it until the advent of the H-series.  It wasn't long after that Nikon introduced the D3x. As soon as I saw the results, I realized I no longer needed medium format, sold the Hasselblad equipment, and haven't looked back.

In the late 1970's I began a Stock Photo Agency and have shot stock ever since. In the beginning stock photography was done in addition to my advertising work, but in the 1980's and early 90's, the heyday of stock photography, I switched to it exclusively. This meant shooting myriad subjects: lifestyle, beauty, travel, still life, animals, landscape, etc., etc.  Each of these subjects demanded different equipment to do them right.  That is how I became so involved with testing camera equipment.  I was constantly seeking the right tool for the job.

As digital camera technology evolved I became interested in smaller camera systems that could do quality work, such as the Fuji X-Pro1. Camera technology has advanced to the point to where many higher end consumer cameras can deliver the goods. I became interested in this new breed of cameras and wanted to see how they would perform under the scrutiny of professional use.  That led me to this blog.

I like discussing all aspects of photography. I find that it helps me coalesce my thoughts, and hopefully some of my observations will serve as a help to others.  I love photography -- all aspects of it. I hope you enjoy the blog.

More background on Tom can be found at these links:

Read an interview of TOM GRILL conducted by LEICA CAMERA on their blog. Click here

Overview of Tom's stock photography career: Click overview

Interview on Tom's opinion of stock photography: Click interview

Tom's fine art web site

Tom's commercial web site


  1. Very interesting stuff on your site Tom, I enjoy reading your comments, especially discussing new equipment. I also love your style of photography :-)
    Please keep it going !

  2. Just red your article on Nikon Rumors about the D4s Tom. Great stuff and amazing images, as always. I would love to read more about the way you do your backlit images. How you get the exposure right and what settings or technics you use to aquire focus on the (moving) subjects. Do you think you could consider writing something about that in the near future? Thanks a lot Tom!

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll start collecting some samples soon and write a post when I have it all together. - t

  4. Hi Tom,

    I've recently been looking (again) at your daily stock shot project - it was, and still is, the inspiration for my getting into stock photography. As any newcomer is likely to do,I started off with microstock: it's easy to get into and has instant dividends. With the obvious caveat of low ROI! In looking back at the post when you completed your project, I saw the line that made me decide to jump onto the stock wagon:

    "...Drum roll please! It is safe to say that the images from this project will generate upwards of $25,600 per year..."

    Of course, I now ask myself what the next step is. My question is this:

    "Do you think that anything in my portfolio would be suitable for Tetra?"

    I won't post a link to the gallery - that would be presumptuous - but, if you feel that you can have a look, it would be great to get your insight. I am a casual shooter - exactly the kind of person who would shoot in the opportunistic manner of your DSS Project.



  5. Wes, I'm always happy to look at a portfolio, but I will need a link to your site. I am leaving on a two week trip tomorrow and won't be able to do anything until my return.

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  8. Hi Tom

    It's my pleasure for me find your blog, I read several of your post and really enjoy it. It´s until today that I have read this page and about your background. Keep posting and inform about Fuji gear.
    I just buy my first Fuji the X100s and it´s a joy to take pictures with this little camera.

    Best Regards