Tag Archives: Art Director

Taking His Time: A Look Back at 50 Years of Joel Meyerowitz’s Photographs

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.

Image: Joel Meyerowitz: 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.

Laurent Chéhère’s Flying Houses

Inspired by the 1956 short French childrens film Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon, Laurent Chhres part analog, part digital images of floating houses are at once a charming, imaginative take on Paris, and also a wistful vision of dreams deferred. The work will be shown from Oct. 25 to Dec. 8 at Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris.

Before transitioning to photography, Chhre was an art director at a French advertising agency. He first saw Le Ballon Rouge when he was young, and upon revisiting it recently, described it as a merveille [wonder] of poetry. In 1960, TIME Magazine named its director, Albert Lamorisse, probably the most original moviemaker in France.

The film stars the directors 6-year-old son Pascal as an inquisitive, adventurous Parisian tot who discovers a bright red balloon in the street one day. Lamorisses Paris is a city drained of color, still suffering from the fallout of the war, populated by stern grownups and bullying children. It is against this surprisingly grim backdrop that our story takes place. The boy discovers that the balloon is not simply a shiny, bouncy thing to be led about on a string but rather a living, expressive, mischievous character unto itself. Without the use of CGI, the director is able to coax an amazing performance out of latex and helium, and the boy and the balloon become fast friends. Ultimately, the adventure story that ensues is an ode to possibility, dreams and escape.

Mary Evans/Ronald GrantEverett Collection

A scene from “The Red Balloon.”

Chhres world has a similar color palette of greys, blues and browns. And it too shares a dose of the fantastical: the main charactersin this case buildings he digitally constructed from architectural details photographed around Parisappear to float in the sky. But something is different. carrera de fotografia . Unlike the playful balloon with its dancing string, these floating objects appear settled, as if stasis has overtaken them and age has crept in.

Notes from workaday life appear throughout the photo seriestelevision antennae, For Sale signs, McDonalds and graffiti. Laundry appears in two of the nine images. Chhre, who turned 40 this year, has replaced the balloons dancing string with electrical wires, which both sustain the houses and also tie them in place. The one exception is a grim, grey-blue brick house with prison-like windows. Here, the wires have snapped, a fire rages in the second story, the inhabitants escape ladder has broken and tumbles out of the frame. Resting by the window, silhouetted by the blaze, is a birdcage, about to be engulfed in flames.

Albert Lamorisse’s film has a happy ending; the ending of Chhres meditation on middle-age life remains uncertain.

Laurent Chhre is a photographer based in Paris. More of his work is available on his website.

Laurent Chéhère’s Flying Houses

Inspired by the 1956 short French childrens film Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon, Laurent Chhres part analog, part digital images of floating houses are at once a charming, imaginative take on Paris, and also a wistful vision of dreams deferred. carrera de fotografia . The work will be shown from Oct. 25 to Dec. 8 at Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris.

Before transitioning to photography, Chhre was an art director at a French advertising agency. He first saw Le Ballon Rouge when he was young, and upon revisiting it recently, described it as a merveille [wonder] of poetry. In 1960, TIME Magazine named its director, Albert Lamorisse, probably the most original moviemaker in France.

The film stars the directors 6-year-old son Pascal as an inquisitive, adventurous Parisian tot who discovers a bright red balloon in the street one day. Lamorisses Paris is a city drained of color, still suffering from the fallout of the war, populated by stern grownups and bullying children. It is against this surprisingly grim backdrop that our story takes place. The boy discovers that the balloon is not simply a shiny, bouncy thing to be led about on a string but rather a living, expressive, mischievous character unto itself. Without the use of CGI, the director is able to coax an amazing performance out of latex and helium, and the boy and the balloon become fast friends. Ultimately, the adventure story that ensues is an ode to possibility, dreams and escape.

Mary Evans/Ronald GrantEverett Collection

A scene from “The Red Balloon.”

Chhres world has a similar color palette of greys, blues and browns. And it too shares a dose of the fantastical: the main charactersin this case buildings he digitally constructed from architectural details photographed around Parisappear to float in the sky. But something is different. Unlike the playful balloon with its dancing string, these floating objects appear settled, as if stasis has overtaken them and age has crept in.

Notes from workaday life appear throughout the photo seriestelevision antennae, For Sale signs, McDonalds and graffiti. Laundry appears in two of the nine images. Chhre, who turned 40 this year, has replaced the balloons dancing string with electrical wires, which both sustain the houses and also tie them in place. The one exception is a grim, grey-blue brick house with prison-like windows. Here, the wires have snapped, a fire rages in the second story, the inhabitants escape ladder has broken and tumbles out of the frame. Resting by the window, silhouetted by the blaze, is a birdcage, about to be engulfed in flames.

Albert Lamorisse’s film has a happy ending; the ending of Chhres meditation on middle-age life remains uncertain.

Laurent Chhre is a photographer based in Paris. More of his work is available on his website.

Ulric Collette


Canadian photographer Ulric Collette seeks to answer the question: How much do you and your family members really look alike? with his series, Genetic Portraits.  Ulric is a Quebec-based graphic designer and photographer is exploring the genetic similarities between different members of the same family (fathers and sons, mothers and daugthers, brothers, sisters, etc). 
By splitting their faces in half and then blending them together in a single face, he highlights the mysteries of genetic resemblances and differences and create interesting new people that are sometimes quite normal looking and other times far from it.  If faces might somehow reveal something about the character of a person, perhaps Ulric’s hybrid family portraits suggest that they also give an insight to the nature of our families. 
Ulric works as an art director for Collette, an advertising studio in Quebec city. Ulric’s work has been featured in magazines and books all over the world (Prism, Global Investor, Esquire, Lumière et Lens, Snap, Fubiz, My Modern Met, Plateform, Adobe, Explora, New York Daily News, Discovery Chanel, etc). Most recently, his work on the genetic serie was shortlisted in the world most prestigious advertising awards show, the Cannes Lion. 

Maxine Helfman

The Flash Forward Festival in Boston this spring was a wonderful experience, and one of the best parts of it for me personally, was meeting photographer Maxine Helfman.  We had solo exhibits that flanked each others and found ourselves together at numerous times over the course of the event.  We discovered that we had a lot in common and visited a lot of the same themes and ideas in our work. We both loved taxidermy and children and conceptual approaches.  Plus I was blown away by her work. I’m showing work from 4 series, to give an idea of her approach to photography.

Several weeks after the event, Maxine asked me for my address and said she had a little box to send me.  A week later, a box the size of Texas, where she lives, appeared on my doorstep. I hadn’t ordered a new dishwasher, and certainly never expected what was sitting outside my door to be the little box she had mentioned.  Inside was a cornucopia of objects, things she had collected and knew that I too would be drawn to–masks, toys, scraps of wall paper. Her generosity was remarkable.

Maxine is a self-taught late bloomer. After years of working as a stylist and art director, photography brought her vision full circle.
She works as a commercial photographer for a range of advertising and editorial clients, but  devotes a portion of her time
to pursue her personal work. Her photographs has been recognized by Flash Forward Boston, Px3 – 2012, IPA – 2012, Critical mass,
Santa Barbara Museum of Fine Art & Museum of Fine Art Houston. Here work is currently on display in the Santa Barbara Art Museum’s exhibition, Portrayal Betrayal. One of her Boys in Dresses images is featured in the exhibition.

 My work begins with a thought or idea, and becomes an “invented reality” through a photograph. inspired by
flemish painting, i like to maintain a strong simplicity in tone and composition. i prefer to pose questions with my work, rather than provide answers.

Re runs: Verner Soler

I’m stepping away from Lenscratch this week to work on a new personal website and prepare for upcoming photo activities…wanted to reintroduce you to some wonderful photographers featured several years ago, today with Verner Soler that was featured in January, 2009.

After growing up in a Swiss village, population 250, Verner Soler, has a unique window into a world we’ve only seen in the movies. Juggling a full plate as an art director, husband, and father, Verner does not get back to the village as often as he would like to. Several years ago, after being struck by how much his parents had aged between his visits, he decided to take definitive portraits of his parents, and more recently, has completed the typology with members of his extended family. It’s a powerful and fascinating series of genetics and love, (and for those of us living in Los Angeles, incredibly refreshing to see real faces). He will also be sharing images from his visits to Switzerland at Review LA.

From Heads (Grandmother, Mother, Father)

From Visits to My Village

The Mane Subject: A Book of Beards

When Justin James Muir moved to West Chester, Pa. a little over two years ago, he found himself in a hairy situation—the beards per capita ratio seemed unusually high. The phenomenon puzzled Muir, so as he settled into life in his new home, the art director did what came naturally: he began photographing the beards of his new friends. And then he photographed the bearded friends of these friends. And then the friends of their friends found their way in front of Muir’s lens too. Pretty soon, he had enough portraits to publish a book.

A Book of Beards, published earlier this month, features 125 pages of whiskered men, photographed by Muir at beard competitions, dive bars and off-the-beaten-path hideaways across the East Coast.

“I would literally look for beards everywhere I went. I would meet someone on the street and try to set up a time to shoot them or have them come to me,” Muir told TIME. He even had cards that he would give to the the well-bearded men he would encounter.

“There was no real criteria,” he explained. “It just had to be a big beard and look cool. You don’t see people like this every day—a lot of them are kinda tucked away in nooks that most people will never go to.”

Publishing A Book of Beards himself, Muir decided that all proceeds from the first press run would help Mike Cummings, a bearded friend suffering from testicular cancer without health insurance. Mike, featured on the cover of the book, also contributed a short written vignette in the book, one of 18 pieces sprinkled throughout the portraits. Muir plans to donate the funds from subsequent press runs to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

For more information about A Book of Beards or to purchase a copy, visit BookofBeards.com.

Photo Editor of the Month: Emma Bowkett of FT Weekend Magazine

As part of Photojournalism Links’s relaunch, we’re introducing new and regular columns, with the goal of exploring further the inner-workings of the photojournalism community. One such column is dedicated to Photo Editors. Far from being a Hall of Fame-type of chronicle, it’s a way for us to introduce photo editors that are using photography in intelligent and creative ways. We’re also mindful that a lot of our readers are students and emerging photographers, who might not always know how photo editors work and how, and when, they can be approached. Hopefully, this column will help them, while informing others about the work of particular photo editors.

This month, we’re starting with Emma Bowkett, the photo editor for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine.

Photo © Kalpesh Lathigra.

Photojournalism Links: How did you get started in photography? How did you end up being a photo editor for Financial Times?

Emma Bowkett: Graduating from Goldsmiths College in 2005 with an MA in Image and Communication, I took an internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum, archiving prints for their Word and Image department. Then I worked for two years as first assistant to an advertising photographer, before teaching on the degree course at Goldsmiths. This was a term-time position, so I started freelance picture editing at the Financial Times. I developed a good working relationship with the art director on the FT Weekend Magazine. She kept asking me back.

Photojournalism Links: How do you use photography for the FT Weekend Magazine?

Emma Bowkett: We re-launched the magazine in 2010 with greater emphasis on photography. Most of the photography in the magazine is commissioned. We are a weekly publication with a short lead-time. Stories are often timed to events and news stories, so we are able to commission photographers to work on assignments, as well as publishing photo essays, previews of photo exhibitions and books. I work closely with the AD’s, photographers and agents to produce concepts. Ideas are pitched to my editor, and usually run over six or eight pages. We are encouraged to be ambitious with both images and design.

Photojournalism Links: What are you looking for in the photographers that you use? What attracts you to a certain photographer over another?

Emma Bowkett: I’m looking for photographers with a sense of authorship to their work. I see a lot of folios, sometimes there’s just a special something that attracts me.

Photojournalism Links: Do you mostly use to local photographers for international assignments? Are there cases, when you would send someone abroad?

Emma Bowkett: Much of the photography I commission is international. I usually work with photographers on the ground. That said, there are circumstances where we fly someone in, if we are looking for a specific style [we’ll] use a specific photographer.

Photojournalism Links: How do you discover new photographers?

Emma Bowkett: Galleries, social media sites, magazines, blogs, agents, recommendations. I try to see two photographers’ books a week because I like talking to photographers about their personal projects face to face when I can. Attending private views, talks, and events are a good way to meet new photographers and build relationships.

Photojournalism Links: Are there one or several photographers that have impressed you in the past year? And why?

Emma Bowkett: I am continually impressed by photography. There are several photographers I could mention; many are regular contributors to the magazine. I’d like to mention Stan Douglas, who I recently discovered, and is this year’s recipient of ICP’s Infinity Award for Art. He recently exhibited in London and in New York. We ran his series, Midcentury Studio, in the magazine.  I was lucky enough to see both shows. I’m interested in his concept of taking on the identity of a photojournalist, constructing scenes and narratives, challenging fact and fiction. I really love his work.

FT Weekend Magazine © Stan Douglas, Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London.

FT Weekend Magazine © Stan Douglas, Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London.

FT Weekend Magazine © Stan Douglas, Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London.

Photojournalism Links: What is the last photo book that you’ve bought?

Emma Bowkett: I have just bought WassinkLundgren’s Empty Bottles and Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs.

Photojournalism Links: If you could hire any photographer, who would it be?

Emma Bowkett: I was just in contact with Sølve Sundsbø’s agent about a possible cover shoot. It didn’t work out, but I’d still like to work with him. I have a wish list of photographers. The best thing about my job is working with photographers I admire.

Photojournalism Links: What are your hobbies outside of photography?

Emma Bowkett: I go to the movies as much as I can. I cycle and go the gym.

Photojournalism Links: How can photographers reach you?

Emma Bowkett: Email, Twitter or Facebook. The same way I find them.