A remarkable story to encourage all photographers and almost photographers: the life journey of the New York City–based photographer Joel Meyerowitz.
In 1962 Meyerowitz was working as an art director at an advertising agency when he watched photographer Robert Frank working on an advertising photo shoot. It proofed to be a cathartic moment for Meyerowitz. Back in the office he told his boss that he wanted to be a photographer.
“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. 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.
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.”” (via Time, by Nate Rawlings)
This life changing moment happened 50 years ago. For this anniversary Meyerowitz compiled hundreds of images into a two-volume book, Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time (Phaideon Press).