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In his early teens, Waddell was drawing and painting regularly. About this time he was given his first camera, a Voightlander VitoB. Armed with this new creative instrument, he began running about the neighbourhood, shooting the goings-on and processing and printing his own film.
Photography and painting became the backbone of his creative expression, and he constantly painted and snapped his way through his teens until finishing high school. He took a year off working construction and during this time decided that he needed to take this passion seriously. He enrolled in The Alberta College of Art with a focus on painting.
The pressures of making a living at his chosen craft began to weigh on him, it was then that he decided to switch majors and shift to commercial photography.
He didn't apply paint to canvas for the next 28 years.
After graduating, he moved to Vancouver with a friend from school and launched an assistants company that eventually landed him in the biggest commercial studio in the city. He stayed there for six years gaining valuable experience, this gave him the courage to start Grant Waddell Photography, a successful venture lasting nine years. During the last of these years, the desire to own a house and move closer to family became his focus,and in 2005 he and his family returned to Calgary, and bought a house. Grant opened a commercial studio with the belief that the Calgary market would be as lucrative and filled with the same opportunities as Vancouver. He discovered however, this was not the case.
This period marked the beginning of a deep fundamental change in his life. When he approached 50, Waddell experienced some personal tragedies that began to shift his direction.
With the realization that he had ignored his basic passion, Waddell enrolled in a weekend painting retreat and produced four paintings, his first in 28 years.