Joel Meyerowitz, an influential American photographer, is celebrated for his significant contributions to the genre of street photography. With a career spanning over five decades, Meyerowitz has left an indelible mark on the art form, revolutionizing how we perceive and capture the essence of urban life.
Born in New York City on March 6, 1938, Meyerowitz’s passion for photography was ignited during his early years as an art director in advertising. In 1962, he left his advertising career to pursue photography full-time, embracing the streets of New York City as his muse. Meyerowitz was one of the first photographers to transition from black and white to color, a bold move that would define his style and set him apart from his contemporaries.
Meyerowitz’s groundbreaking approach to street photography transformed the genre. He believed in capturing spontaneous moments, embracing the chaos and energy of city life. His images revealed the everyday beauty that often goes unnoticed, infused with vibrant colors and a keen sense of composition. Meyerowitz’s work challenged the notion that street photography had to be exclusively black and white, bringing a fresh perspective to the art form and inspiring countless photographers to experiment with color.
Unique Techniques and Influences
Meyerowitz developed a distinctive methodology that involved immersing himself in the street environment, patiently waiting for the perfect confluence of elements. He mastered the art of observing and anticipating moments, skillfully capturing the decisive instant when a scene unfolds harmoniously. Inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson‘s concept of the “decisive moment,” Meyerowitz brought a modern twist to this idea by incorporating vibrant colors and a sense of visual poetry into his photographs. He also drew inspiration from painters like Edward Hopper and Robert Frank, infusing his work with a cinematic quality and a deep appreciation for light and shadow.
Enduring Legacy and Impact
Joel Meyerowitz’s influence on street photography continues to reverberate throughout the art world. His groundbreaking book “Cape Light” (1978) and his contributions to the groundbreaking exhibition “New Documents” (1967) solidified his status as a pioneering figure. Meyerowitz’s photographs have been widely exhibited and collected, showcasing his mastery of capturing the essence of time and place. As an educator, he has mentored aspiring photographers, sharing his expertise and inspiring them to push the boundaries of their craft. You can follow his online photography masterclass here. His work serves as a constant reminder to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Joel Meyerowitz’s illustrious career and innovative approach to street photography have earned him a well-deserved place among the greats. His use of color, keen observation skills, and ability to capture fleeting moments have had a lasting impact on the art form, inspiring generations of photographers to embrace the streets as their canvas.
In this video, photographer and Youtuber, Frederik Trovatten, walks the streets of Mexico making images that are reminiscent of the work and style of our master of photography, Joel Meyerowitz.