Award-winning photojournalist Melvin Grier developed his passion for photography while serving with the U.S. Air Force in the early 1960s. He submitted several of his early photos to a contest sponsored by the military newspaper Stars and Stripes and won first and second place. The rest, as they say, is history.
Out of the service, Grier worked for a year as an assistant to Cincinnati photographer Austin Bewsey before taking a job shooting half-tones for Young & Klein Lithographers. He started Terra, a short lived but critically acclaimed photography magazine, and then was hired in 1974 by The Cincinnati Post. He retired December 31, 2007, the same day the Post ceased publishing.
On assignments, Grier has traveled to Cuba, El Salvador, Eritrea, Honduras, Kenya, Puerto Rico, Somalia, Vietnam, and the Virgin Islands. His photos have been published in Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, US, Ebony, Jet and Advertising Age.
Among his many awards, Melvin was named Ohio News Photographer Association 35th Annual Picture Contest, 1985 Photographer of the Year, Cincinnati Magazine, Best Photographer, 1993, 1999 Ohio Photographer of the Year by the Queen City Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, Cincinnati Arts Consortium, Donald A. Sowell Visual Arts award in 2000 and in 2004, he was named the Taft Museum of Art, Robert S. Duncanson Artist-in-Residence. Grier was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists Greater Cincinnati Hall of Fame and the National Association of Black Journalists, Cincinnati Chapter Hall of Fame.
In addition to receiving 10 photography awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Grier has earned accolades from the Associated Press Society of Ohio, the Press Club of Cleveland, the Kentucky Press Association United Press International and Scripps-Howard News Service.
Grier’s work has appeared in dozens of exhibits including the most recent “It Was Always About The Work “at the Weston Art Gallery. A retrospective that “captures Grier’s photographic journey throughout his long and accomplished career”. The popularity of this exhibit resulted in standing room only crowds. In 2011 from April 30 to June 11 Grier had a one man show,” White People: A Retrospective” at Kennedy Heights Arts Center. The exhibit broke attendance records for KHAC and received much media attention.
“A Joyful Noise,” a collection of photographs related to music and dance was at the Cathedral Basilica Gallery in Covington, Kentucky in early 2004. Grier’s work had been on display several times at the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati including a one-man show in 1994 entitled “Souls in Bondage: Essays of East Africa.”
Grier has also exhibited with many individual artists and groups including Jymi Bolden, Samantha Grier, Michael Kearns, Tom Shaw, Michael Wilson, Cincinnati Post Staff photographers, Mixed Media, GRID, and Foto-Focus Local Eyes.
Grier’s photographs are in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum and private collectors.
Throughout Melvin’s illustrious photographic career, he still finds time to give back to the Cincinnati community. He and his wife, Brenda established the “Melvin and Brenda T. Grier Urologic Cancer Research and Education Fund”. Net proceeds of Melvin’s book published through the University of Cincinnati Press titled “It Was Always About the Work” and from the sale of prints from the “It Was Always About The Work” exhibit will be donated to the fund.
Melvin currently serves as a member on the Foto-Focus and Memorial Hall -Longworth- Anderson Series Boards. And working in his neighborhood, he is Founder and member of the Friends of Fleischmann Gardens and a member of A29 and the Avondale Community Council.