Street | Photographer Research | Joel Meyerowitz

Joel Meyerowitz was born in 1983. He is a street and landscape photographer. He began photographing in colour in 1962 and is considered an early advocate of colour photographer because he was shooting it at a time when it was not considered a serious art. He was photographing the streets of New York City around the same time as Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus.

The reason I have chosen to research him is because he uses captures candid street scenes as things happen around him, rather than taking direct portraits of people. For my approach to street photography I would like to take a more observational approach and this is something that Meyerowitz has done extremely well.

When he fist began taking street photographs Meyerowitz was using a 35mm camera with black and white film before alternating between black and white and colour up until 1972 when he ‘permanently adopted colour’. Around that time he also switched from 35mm to a large format camera often favouring a 10 x 8.


There is so much going on in this picture, most obviously there is a man laying on the floor next to the entrance of what I would assume is a subway station. There is no explanation as to why he is there, but I think that is one of the things that make it all the more intriguing. Almost every other person in the image is looking at the man on the floor and so your eyes are naturally drawn towards him too. Despite the large amount of people present no one seems to be helping him, there is even a man steeping right over the top of him. I think that this is a good representation of life in New York, the way that people will carry on with whatever they’re doing, regardless of what madness is going on around them. The framing of the photo has been used to good effect, with most of the people gathered on the right of the image and large amounts of traffic on the left. I also love the colours in this photo, there are a lot of grey, white and brown tones coming from the street, the cars, the suits, the woman’s bags and the boxes on the delivery cart. As a result of this the small splashes of colour in the image really stand out, including the pink clothing of one of the women in the crowd of people, the red bag of the man on the bike, the yellow dress and blonde hair of the woman in the bottom right hand corner and the green of the trees. All of these colours seem to be spaced evenly around the man on the floor.

Iscreen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-18-23This photo has been beautifully composed with the four subjects wearing camel colour coats, all with their backs to the camera, the way that the two shadows fall perfectly on the back of the two women on the right hand side of the photo. It looks like this photo was taken using natural light and without flash, because the sunlight is very bright. This kind of light is something that I would associate with hotter places and so it is very unlikely that I would be shooting in similar conditions while in Cardiff.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-18-34The clothing being worn by the subjects in this photo stand out against the grey street and building. I like that two of them aren’t facing the camera and shows that it is possible to take interesting photos without people being aware of/ facing the camera. There also appears to be someones shoulder in the bottom left corner of the image and the image is still successful despite that.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-18-50      I would assume that this is one Meyerowitz’s earlier images because it is in black and white. This photograph would have been very unusual for it’s time, because it is not serious and not what would be expected from a portrait. Meyerowitz has carefully considered the composition of the image obviously placing the speaking vent in front of her face and making it so that she has been framed by the glass booth.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-19-39This photograph could be interpreted as an observation class difference in NYC, the facial expressions of the subjects contrast each other, the older man in the suit does not look impressed by the younger man and his dog. The dog’s feet have been cut out of the frame and I am not sure if this was intentional or because Meyerowitz was quickly capturing a snapshot of the moment.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-19-57Similarly to the first photo I looked at there is a lot going on in this frame but it has been composed carefully. There are certain subjects that the eye os drawn to, for me it is the woman in the red coat and the man in the suit who appears to be in a hurry. It looks as though Meyerowitz has waited in this position and has waited for the people around him to fall into position before capturing the moment, and because people in NYC are often in a hurry it is unlikely that any of them would have noticed him taking their photo.


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