Below is a video in which Joel Meyerowitz, prompted by Magnum photographer Matt Stuart, talks about the methods and approaches to photography that have characterised the different stages of his very long and successful career.
The video is 90+ minutes long, and covers a lot of interesting ground. But I was particularly struck by one short section. About 47 minutes in, Meyerowitz is talking about the way he did photography on the streets in the late 1960s, and about the scenes and incidents that continually presented themselves. At about the 50 minute mark he talks about a photograph of one such incident where he spotted a couple of men dressed as giant shoes going down the street, and a lady on crutches with her leg in plaster suddenly appeared in the frame and started to do a crazy dance. Meyerowitz says this is exactly the kind of incident that you simply couldn’t imagine or arrange in advance, but that makes photography so interesting.
And this was the sort of photography that, at the time, he became extremely skilful at. But at around 53 minutes he explains how he realised that if he continued to play that particular game of catching incidents to photograph, he would stay at the same level for the rest of his life. “There comes a point when it’s necessary to let go of the thing you know how to do best“, if you are going to continue to grow.
So he decided to give up ‘the incident’ as the hook to hang a photograph on, and instead to investigate making photographs where everything in the frame was the content of the picture. And since then he has gone on to master many other approaches to photography, including large-format landscape and portraiture, and, more recently, spare and austerely elegant still life.
Here’s the video…
This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Ian McNab.