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Joel Meyerowitz

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City capture from Eve Arnold to Charlie Zoller

Bob Shamis choice of 235 color photos in these pages clearly lift it way above the usual New York photo book and there are enough of those around already. I thought this was a vibrant selection of work mostly from known photographers, a hundred of them and they all have something to say about the world's leading cultural center. Obviously very few photos are pre-forties but Steichen's 1904 Flatiron Building is here and over the page is Alfred Dutertre's Pointillist style shot of the Plaza Hotel from 1908. Other older images were originally in mono and hand colored including one from Jacob Riis taken in 1888.

The city comes alive with color from the fifties onward and Saul Leiter has some great work included, sort of color versions of the influential mono New York School work of the period. Most of the fifties and some of the sixties photos come across with muted colors probably as much to do with the technical aspects of film back then as to do with the subject choice of photographers experimenting with this new medium. The vibrancy and dazzle of color had to wait until the eighties, now it's permanent. There's a stunning shot by Andrew Moore (page sixty-five) of Times Square taken in 2002 that sort of sums up the color image one expects of the city now. Thomas Hoepker's famous 9/11 photo (page 210) and one by Joel Meyerowitz, also from 9/11 (page 217) are also good examples of the documentary color style.

The subject matter of the photos is a mixture of cityscapes, street scenes and a some interiors. A few feature personalities, Gay Talese, Diana Vreeland for example but it is basically the city that comes across so strongly.

The book's square format works well with one photo a page, printed in a 175 screen. There is a minor designer's conceit in having no page numbers on the left-hand pages and on the right-hand pages the number is placed near the book's gutter, a pretty pointless position in my view, especially when a reader uses the Index and then to find a particular page.

'New York in color' is sort of comparable with Taschen's huge, wonderful New York: Portrait Of A City. Both books look at the city using work from the same photographers though the Taschen book is arranged historically and has as many mono photos as color ones.

New York in Color is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository (US | UK)

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color

New York in Color
The other New York photo book. More comprehensive because it includes black and whites as well as color and arrange historically.

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Joel Meyerowitz was part of a group of pioneering photographers that revolutionized the art world 50 years ago by taking color pictures at a time when everyone thought serious photos had to be in black and white. Over his decades-long career, he’s proved himself to be a master of street, landscape, and portrait photography. He is 74 years old. Olivia Bee is one of our favorite new photographers, and we featured her work in our most recent photo issue. She is 18 years old. We thought it would be fun to see how two nonsequential generations of photographers would interact, so we had Olivia interview Joel about photography, life, art, and his massive, two-volume retrospective book, Taking My Time, which was just released by Phaidon.

Olivia Bee: I’ve been reading your book the last few days and it’s so beautiful. Like, it’s so amazing. I love it.
Joel Meyerowitz: That’s nice to hear. You’re the first person to have actually read the book and say something about it. Thank you for saying that. I don’t know how the book is going to read. I’m not a professional writer, but I felt I had to say something intimate and personal about the 50 years I’ve been working in this medium. I do think I found a certain tone, a voice that came out of me. And when I read it, I feel gratified, but who knows what anybody else thinks.

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The 1939 edition of Robert Frost’s Collected Poems contained an introductory essay that wasn’t in the first edition. In that article, entitled “The Figure a Poem Makes,” Frost wrote, “Like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere.”

Though he didn’t know it at the time, acclaimed photographer Joel Meyerowitz began hurling his own experiences ahead of him in 1962. While working as an art director at an advertising agency, Meyerowitz met photographer Robert Frank who was shooting a clothing brochure. Meyerowitz watched Frank move while he photographed, and he had an incredible epiphany. On the way back to the office, Meyerowitz walked the streets of New York for more than an hour. “I felt like I was reading the text of the street in a way that I never had before,” he says.

When he returned to the office, Meyerowitz told his boss, Harry Gordon, that he was quitting. He wanted to be a photographer. Gordon then asked him a crucial question: did he have a camera? The answer was no, so Gordon lent him a 35mm camera and Meyerowitz embarked on the great journey of his life.

Over the next 50 years Meyerowitz exhibited at the MoMA, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, published books and taught photography at Cooper Union. But there was always one place where you had a chance to run into him and become immortalized in his gargantuan body of work. Meyerowitz is, first and foremost, a street photographer. Though he has shot street scenes in France, Germany, Atlanta, Ohio and dozens of places in between, the chaotic streets of New York City make up his favorite studio. “Fifth Avenue is my boulevard,” he says. “No street in the world, and I’ve traveled a lot, has for me the kind of sexy, improvisatory collisions between elegance and lowness. You can see bike messengers and models, billionaires and hustlers, and it’s all out there every day.”

That first day with Robert Frank served as more than just a catalytic inspiration; it laid the foundation for how Meyerowitz would record street life. He bobs and weaves through the throngs of people, searching for that serendipitous moment that becomes a great photograph. “The way someone makes a gesture on the street or the way couples react to each other or the simultaneity of two things happening at the same time and the relationship between them,” are some of the elements he looks for. “It was the wonder of human nature and this incredible capacity for things to keep showing themselves to me,” he says.

 Taking My Time (Phaidon Press, November 2012)

Phaidon Press

Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time (Phaidon Press. Limited Edition including signed print, November 2012)

When he is shooting on the street, there isn’t much time to contemplate each moment. “Photography takes place in a fraction of a second,” Meyerowitz says. “There isn’t a lot of time to think about things. You have to hone your instinct. You learn to hone that skill and timing so you’re in the right place at the right time.” Although he has made images that have moved audiences for decades, that has never been his true motivation. “I’m not out there to make another ‘great picture,’” he says. “I’m really out there to feel what it feels like to be alive and conscious in that moment. In a sense, the record of my photographs is a record of moments of consciousness and awareness that have come to me in my life.”

This year, the 50th anniversary of when he first took up the camera, Meyerowitz compiled hundreds of his favorite images for the two-volume collection, Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time (Phaidon Press). The project isn’t just a greatest hits collection. “It’s easy to make a book of your very best things and not necessarily have a narrative arc,” he says. “I wanted to stick strictly to the chronology as precisely as I could and show my own development.” The result is a visual biography of an artist who for half a century has snapped moments–fractions of seconds–and preserved them forever. Each tells a unique story that Meyerowitz has used to pave his life. Through the images of people and places and tiny moments in time, one can see a remarkable line of purpose he has created, one that runs fluidly across the experience of his life.

Joel Meyerowitz is a New York City-based photographer. Beginning Nov. 2, his work will be displayed in a two-part solo show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.

LightBox previously featured Meyerowitz’s photographs of the destruction and reconstruction at Ground Zero.

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Everybody-street

Alfred Steiglitz was a key player in the New York street photography scene from the beginning of the twentieth century. It’s his candid spectatorial of the big city’s spirit and people that has been the creative catalyst for many a photographer shooting on the streets today – and with them, the Everybody Street tribute film project by Cheryl Dunn. Featuring a cinematic compilation of interviews and photographs with those artists who dedicate themselves to the city today, it’s full of wonderfully honest, anecdote-heavy insights from great photographers like Joel Meyerowitz and Rocky Powell.

www.everybodystreet.com

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Among a group who legitimized color as a serious medium for art photographers in the 1970s and 1980s, Joel Sternfeld first came to prominence in 1987 with the publication of American Prospects. The book, which featured pictures taken on a series of road trips across the country, subtly documented underlying socioeconomic issues in America with irony and humor. Both poignant and formally beautiful, the images are now considered one of the most important works from the period, and the tome a landmark contribution to the history of American photography. American Prospects was the first of a number of highly regarded and influential books by Sternfeld, which also includes On This Site and Stranger Passing. And though First Pictures, published this month by Steidl, is the newest by the photographer, the book actually pays tribute to Sternfeld’s beginnings.

The book is comprised of Sternfeld’s formative work—mostly unseen until now—and brings further understanding and context to his oeuvre. Featuring Sternfeld’s images from 1971—when he first started taking color pictures — to 1980, First Pictures is broken down into four series: Nags Head, a North Carolina beach community; Rush Hour, street photography taken outside the Macy’s in New York City, At the Mall, taken in New Jersey and most interestingly, Happy Anniversary Sweetie Face, a disparate series of images taken during road trips across America, which serves as a direct precedent to American Prospects. At the time, Sternfeld was working with kodachrome and a 35mm camera rather than the 10×8 format that he would later use to fine tune his aesthetic. The book showcases work that would secure Sternfeld the first of two Guggenheim photography awards and lay the foundation for American Prospects as well as the work that followed. While some images are indicative of Sternfeld’s trademark style —a pastel color palette, compositions that place seemingly insignificant objects in the landscape to reflect a sometimes ironic, cynical or tragic situation, and a socially conscious eye—other photographs seem to relate more formally to the work of other color photographers such as William Eggleston or Helen Levitt.

First Pictures will be a fitting companion to writer and curator Sally Eauclaire’s three book series on color photography: New Color PhotographyAmerican Independents and  New Color New Work, published in the early 1980s, each of which placed Sternfeld’s images directly alongside that of other pioneers in color, including Steven Shore, Joel Meyerowitz and Eggleston. First Pictures goes back a little further and reveals how Sternfeld consciously reacted against the influence of some of his contemporaries—particularly Egglestone and his “poetic snapshots”—in order to create his own voice in color photography through narrative photographs that, individual and in sequence, speak not words or even phrases, but sentences, paragraphs and stories.

First Pictures, published by Steidl, is available now. An accompanying exhibition will be on display at Luhring Augustine gallery in New York from Jan. 7-Feb. 4 2012.

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TIME contract photographer Marco Grob shares an intimate look into the making of the portraits and oral history series that comprise Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience.  The project reveals the astonishing testimonies from over 40 men and women including George W. Bush, Tom Brokaw, General David Petraeus, Valerie Plame Wilson, Black Hawk helicopter pilot Tammy Duckworth, as well as the heroic first responders to Ground Zero. After looking into one of America’s greatest tragedies, Grob now shares his side of the story, and what it was like to be on the other side of the lens.

To visit TIME’s Beyond 9/11: A Portrait of Resilience, a project that chronicles 9/11 and its aftermath, click here. TIME: VOICES OF 9/11, a full length film of Grob’s work will be screened at Film Forum, located at 209 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10014. For more information go to their website by clicking here.

See more of Marco Grob’s work by clicking here.

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Zoniers, Porte de Choisy, 1913By Stephen Longmire, Afterimage, May 2001It has been 20 years, amazingly enough, since New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) launched its landmark cycle of exhibitions of the work of French photographer Eugene Atget (1857-1927), who spent his last 30 years documenting the architectural record of Paris and its surroundings at the beginning of the last century.

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