Gruyaert studied at the School for Photo and Cinema in Brussels from 1959 to 1962. He then began freelance fashion and advertising work in Paris, while working as a director of photography for Flemish television.
In 1969 Gruyaert made the first of many trips to Morocco. His total immersion in its colors and landscapes won him the Kodak Prize in 1976 and culminated in the publication of the book Morocco in 1990. He traveled to India for the first time in 1976 and to Egypt in 1987. Far from indulging in stereotypical exoticism, Gruyaert has a vision of faraway countries that locates the viewer within peculiar and somewhat impenetrable atmospheres.
In a different sphere he covered the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. In the same year he photographed some of the first Apollo flights as they were shown on a crazy television set. This project, which exploits the colors of the screen, appeared under the title 'TV Shots' in Zoom. It was shown at the Delpire Gallery in 1974 and at Phillips de Pury & Co. in New York.
Gruyaert joined Magnum Photos in 1981. His book M ade in Belgium was published in 2000, Rivages, a collection of portraits of shores around the world, in 2003, PhotoPoche in 2006, and TV Shots in 2007.
In his later work Gruyaert has abandoned the Cibachrome process in favor of digital print. Better suited to revealing the rich shades found in his films, digital print opens new possibilities for his work, bringing it one step closer to his original intention, namely to give color the means to assert its true existence.
All images © Harry Gruyaert