Joel Meyerowitz, Photographer

 Illustration by  Jeffrey Phillips

Illustration by Jeffrey Phillips

 

Joel Meyerowitz (Bronx, b. 1938) is a street photographer, author of 24 books, a Guggenheim Fellow, and in the Leica Hall of Fame. His work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries. He was the only photographer to gain unrestricted access to Ground Zero after 9/11. His body of work is in the collections of the International Center of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, and the New York Public Library.

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A note from Joel: 

"You are so lucky to be living in a time when photography books are abundant. On days when you feel like you’ve got nothing to say, flipping through a book of photographs can charge you with the desire to go out and shoot. But, it’s not about making photographs that look like other artists’ work. It’s about finding a comparison between your impulses and theirs, which can serve as an encouragement and inspiration for you when you’re out on the streets. I've used books my whole life as a photographer. I've used them as a resource to inspire me."

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The Animals,
by Garry Winogrand

"In this slender work, Garry Winogrand offers us a scathing yet wickedly funny critique of contemporary urban life. We inhabit cities where humans and their pets, as well as more exotic animals which have been brought from the wild to live out their days among us in zoos, that, through Garry's eyes, are seen as tragically insufficient in their methods of helping these animals to live well. These photographs play on our urban social failures, but beyond that, their pure photographic insight, intelligence, and wit, raise our understanding of what a photograph is capable of saying."

 

The Americans,
by Robert Frank

"In 1962, I was given a copy of the French edition of this book. It opened my eyes to the poetic potential of photography that I had no concept of prior to reading the Americans. This collection of images offers a lesson in seeing, not only of individuals, but of a whole culture. The vision that emanated from this book led not only me, but my whole generation of photographers to go out into the American landscape."

 

The Decisive Moment,
by Henri Cartier Bresson

"This book reinforced the idea that the streets are an abundant and astonishingly surprising place to be. Out of ordinary, everyday life, beauty and significance can be found. Ordinary life is no longer ordinary once you put a frame around a moment. In that instant of seeing you separate it from everything else and it reveals the concentrated essence of who you are. In this book, Cartier-Bresson offers an overwhelming vision of what the world could look like through a camera."

 

Looking at Photographs,
by John Szarkowski

"I urge you to get a copy of this book. It is a selection of 100 photographs from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art with 100 short essays, less than a page each. John is simply the best writer there ever was on photography. The language that I am capable of using today when I talk about photography, I learned through John’s writing and speculations."