‘Sense of Time’, Movie on the Great Urban Documentary aka Street Photographer Joel Meyerowitz, is Available for Rent or Purchase at Vimeo

Earlier this year Ralph Goertz of the Institut für Kunstdokumentation und Szenografie (IKS) released what may be the best documentary movie so far about the great urban documentary aka street photographer Joel Meyerowitz and it is available for short-term rental or purchase at Vimeo. 

I highly recommend ‘Sense of Time’ to those interested in the genres of which Mr Meyerowitz has long been a master, urban documentary with small cameras and streetscapes, landscape and portraits with large format cameras. 

“The American photographer Joel Meyerowitz counts as one of the pioneers of street photography and – next to Stephen Shore and William Eggleston – as one of the most significant representatives of the American ‘New Color Photography’ movement since the 1960s.

Next to his early street photographs which he shot both in color and black & white in the early 1960s, he got international attention through his ground breaking series of “Cape Light”, in which he presented his achromatic observations of the light with his 8×10 camera. The book is still an icon for following generations of photographers….”

I came across the documentary when researching for articles on the recently announced Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR fast prime lens and it reminded me of just how much I learned from and have been inspired by Joel Meyerowitz’ work over the decades since I discovered it while at art school.

His work pointed the way toward achieving the look and feel I had been after when I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the limitations of 35mm SLR cameras and I soon adopted Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras and then a wooden 4″x5″ sheet film.

My vision was immediately liberated from the constraints of the SLR look, and I began creating images much closer to the detail and emotive colour that is now taken for granted in the digital age.

As demonstrated in ‘Sense of Time’ as well as his many books and the Joel Meyerowitz Masterclass training, Mr Meyerowitz relies on Leica analog and digital cameras equipped with 28mm and 35mm prime lenses for his street photography, and Fujifilm’s release next year of the XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR will bring a professional-quality 28mm equivalent prime lens to the system at long last and after years of requests from users.

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The Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR being shown onstage at the Fujifilm X-Summit Omiya 2020 event in October 2020.

I hope to add one to my kit and believe it will stand up well against Fujifilm’s current 35mm equivalent lenses, the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and the smaller, “Fujicron”-style, XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR.

Note how Mr Meyerowitz chooses between the two focal lengths depending on how he wishes to relate foreground action to background setting, whether he wants to create a feeling of being deep in the action or slightly removed and more conscious of what surrounds it.

Note also how optical viewfinder cameras affect his vision and the way he uses his camera so rapidly while achieving accuracy in timing and framing sometimes and a looseness of style and framing at others.

Joel Meyerowitz’ small camera work shows that the street can be a rich realm of exploration and image creation provided one eschews cliché and all-too-common street photography tropes for complete openness to the excitement of the unexpected.

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Miami, FL, 1967. #itsasign

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Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay [video]

“”The fate of photography in this country is at stake. And that is more important than my opinions, or your opinions of me.” Bill Jay – Creative Camera 1969….”

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Masters of Photography Online Courses Launches with Joel Meyerowitz, One of the Greatest Living Fine Art Photographers Working in Colour

I was checking some references for my latest article on colour photography great Joel Meyerowitz when I came across the image featured in this article’s header above. Yes it is true, Joel Meyerowitz is teaching an online course on photography for Masters of Photography and I am sure it will be worth every single cent of its US$170 course fee. 

Walk with Joel in all his 34 lessons as he takes you on this truly inspirational photographic journey and shows you how to stay alive to the meanings and possibilities of the world in front of you. With Joel as your guide, you will learn how to find your creative voice and identity and apply it to your own photographic subjects. Join in and share your course photographs with Joel’s student community and get them critiqued. You will also get your own course certificate from Joel too.

For over 55 years, universally acclaimed, award-winning photographer, Joel Meyerowitz, has been one of the world’s greatest image-makers. Although Meyerowitz is a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, he transformed the medium with his pioneering use of color. As an early advocate, he became instrumental in changing the attitude toward color photography from one of resistance to nearly universal acceptance. Meyerowitz’s work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world, and he has published more than 25 photography books. He was the only photographer to gain unrestricted access to Ground Zero after 9/11, which produced a body of work that led Meyerowitz to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale for Architecture in 2002.

Meyerowitz is a Guggenheim fellow, a recipient of both the NEA and NEH awards, an inductee to the Leica Hall of Fame, an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Photographic Society and a recipient of their prestigious Centenary Medal. He has taught at Princeton University in New Jersey and at The Cooper Union in New York.

It is also pleasing to see that Albert Watson is teaching one of two coming courses, with the third being taught by Steve McCurry. I hope some great female photographers will present future courses on the principle of “if she can see it, she can be it”.

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The Guardian: Photography legend Joel Meyerowitz: phones killed the sexiness of the street

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/mar/07/photography-legend-joel-meyerowitz-phones-killed-sexiness-street-most-stunning-shots

“… “In the 60s and 70s you could look at my street photographs and trace lines from the eyes of people connecting with other people’s eyes, setting up these force fields.”

Today, what entranced Joel Meyerowitz about the street is all but dead. “Nobody’s looking at each other. Everybody’s glued to their phones.” But street photography still exists? “It’s thriving but not in the way I used to do it. The best street photographers now show humans dwarfed by ad billboards. The street has lost its savour.”…”

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Leica M7, classic 35mm format analog street photography, urban documentary and photojournalism camera

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Leica CL with Leica Summicron-TL 23mm f/2.0 Aspheric prime lens and Handgrip for CL

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New Book by the Great Joel Meyerowitz, ‘Where I find Myself’, Coming Soon from Publisher Laurance King

The arts often cross-fertilize each other and inspiration is to be gained from anywhere and everywhere in the same way as fertile subjects for photography and moviemaking are often to be found just around the corner. 

Photograph by Joel Meyerowitz, from his website.

The colour and monochrome photographs of Joel Meyerowitz have been major influences on my own photography and moviemaking since seeing some of his colour photographs in a tiny little book decades ago, so it is wonderful to learn that Where I Find Myself, Joel Meyerowitz’s first major retrospective in book form, is due out soon to accompany a major retrospective exhibition in Berlin.

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Help Sasha Waters Freyer Tell the Story of the Greatest Street Photographer Ever, Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand, quintessential New York street photographer, is the grandfather of all street photographers in this age that seems to have turned street photography itself into something approaching a cult, with its rules, regulations, expectations, tropes, tricks, judges, juries, fans, heroes and followers many of whom, it appears, have forgotten how it all began or that it even has a history. 

Garry Winogrand, as moviemaker Sasha Waters Freyer states in her Kickstarter campaign to raise finishing funds for her documentary movie Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable, was artist, iconoclast, man of his time and the epic photographer of 20th century American life.

More than a street photographer

Just a little bit more than simply a street photographer, methinks. Perhaps Garry Winogrand should be referred to as a great documentary photographer or a brilliant urban documentary photographer or one of the fathers of us all, because that is the depth and breadth of his achievements and influence.

The art of urban documentary is no less than that of depicting the state of humanity in this very moment, so that we, our contemporaries and our descendants may understand this time and us just a little better and perhaps learn from our mistakes and our successes. Even better, avoid repeating those mistakes and understand how to be successful in their own right.

Garry Winogrand died too young to fully experience his own creative success and to be celebrated for his insight into urban America. His life and career followed and overlapped with that of Robert Frank, the photographer who almost singlehandedly kicked off the strand of urban documentary photography that asks questions more than it provides answers.

That is a strand of photography which which I identify, given that no artist can ever claim to have all the answers or even some of them and should not be making such claims. Instead, we can hope to stimulate viewers into asking questions of their own.

The central photographer of his generation

John Szarkowski rightfully hailed Garry Winogrand as “the central photographer of his generation” and what a generation that was, including such leading lights of the photography of everyday life lived out in the streets as Lee Friedlander and Joel Meyerowitz, with whom he often roamed the streets of New York City in the 1960s, crossing paths with Tony Ray-Jones, Tod Papageorge and Diane Arbus.

All were the artistic children of Robert Frank and Joel Meyerowitz was so inspired by watching Frank at work while he, Meyerowitz, was an advertising art director but only one of those creative offspring, Winogrand, had the same toughness and sense of difference from those he photographed.

The others, especially Meyerowitz who was so influenced by William Eggleston’s achievements in colour, possessed a lyricism that Winogrand’s hard-edged directness and desire to see life depicted in new ways mitigated against. Only American expatriate William Klein came close then surpassed that directness through confrontation.

One of Winogrand’s most famous comments on his work is this, quoted in Sean O’Hagan’s article on the then crisis in street photography in The Guardian in 2010, Why street photography is facing a moment of truth:

“When I’m photographing, I see life,” he once said. “That’s what I deal with. I don’t have pictures in my head… I don’t worry about how the picture is going to look. I let that take care of itself… It’s not about making a nice picture. That anyone can do.”

The history and achievements of street photography – or social landscape or urban documentary or what you will – and its most influential practitioners such as Winogrand has yet to be definitely written or delineated in moving images.

It may never be fully so, but at least Sasha Waters Freyer can tell us about the one who is arguably the greatest and we who can should chip in in order to help her do that.