“Photography is a response that has to do with the momentary recognition of things. Suddenly you’re alive. A minute later there was nothing there. I just watched it evaporate. You look one moment and there’s everything, next moment it’s gone. Photography is very philosophical.”
Joel Meyerowitz is one of the living legends and masters in street photography, an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions, currently at 78 years old. He shot in the streets with other legends such as Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, and even bumped into Henri Cartier-Bresson on the streets.
Meyerowitz is Whilst working in a New York advertising agency as an art director, his boss sent him to a studio where Robert Frank was taking photographs that were going to be used of the cover of a book. After seeing Robert Frank at work, moving around the room clicking away, always clicking at the right moment, Joel knew he wanted a change of career, quit his job and became a photographer.
And now when it comes to talking about street photography– and his enthusiasm and passion just exudes from his body, he is a revolutionizing force in street photography and color. When he first started to shoot on the streets of NYC with Garry Winogrand, he bobbed and weaved the streets like a boxer– with his Leica pushing to ISO 1200– allowing him to shoot at 1/1000th of a second and capture life (the maximum shutter speed of a Leica).
However he was curious about color, and would often shoot with two Leica’s on the street– one with black and white and the other with color.
Known as a street photographer, in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, and a landscape and portrait photographer, he began photographing in colour in 1962 and was an early advocate of its use during a time when there was significant resistance to the idea of colour photography as serious art. In the early 1970s he taught the first colour course at the Cooper Union in New York where many of today’s renowned colour photographers studied with him.
Meyerowitz (who has been a photographer for over 50 years) has also experimented not only with 35mm, but also with 8×10 large-format view cameras. His work in Cape Cod was what first helped him gain the public’s attention– in which he focused on colors and light.
All photographs are © Joel Meyerowitz