Photographer In Focus: Arthur Meyerson
Arthur Meyerson lives in Houston, Texas, USA
I had the honor of working with Arthur Meyerson at a Leica Akademie workshop in September 2018. I don’t think I could have learned more about color photography in three days from anyone other than Arthur. It was, simply put, an incredible workshop. If you have the opportunity to have a workshop, travel experience, or one-on-one work with Arthur, my recommendation is don’t hesitate and just do it. It is a clear consensus among the twelve attendees that all of our photography grew in one way or another over those three days.
After that short weekend I also feel honored to call Arthur a friend, and am thrilled I had the pleasure of working with him. So there is no better person to be the next Photographer in Focus. One final note, Arthur Meyerson’s new book, The Journey, is now available. My advice is every photographer needs a copy. Finally, if you are in the Chicago area prior to the end of October, 2018…check out Arthur’s gallery exhibit, The Journey, at The Rangefinder Gallery, 300 West Superior Street at Tamarkin Camera.
From Mr. Meyerson’s website: "Arthur Meyerson is recognized as one of America’s finest color photographers, workshop instructor and photo tour leader. Since 1974, he has traveled throughout the world, creating award winning advertising, corporate and editorial photographs, as well as an extensive body of personal fine art imagery. A three-time winner of Adweek’s “Southwest Photographer of the Year” award, he is on Communication World’s list of top 10 commercial photographers and was named one of the 30 best advertising photographers by American Photo Magazine. His books include the highly acclaimed, The Color of Light (2012) and the recently released, The Journey (2017)."
Five Foto Facts
First camera: Dick Tracy Camera (c.1947 by Seymour Products, used 127 film)
Favorite camera: SLR-The Nikon F; Rangefinder-The Leica M. Over the years I have owned and used several versions of each of these cameras.
Photographer who has most inspired you: Ernst Haas and Jay Maisel.
Favorite travel destination: Having been to over 90 countries and all seven continents, that’s a tough one. At the moment I would say Japan.
One place left on your travel bucket list: There are many but Israel would be in that bucket.
RDBD: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do readers need to know about you to get to know you? What is your personal, professional, and photography background?
A.M.: Since 1974 I have had the good fortune to have lived the photographic life doing commercial assignments, personal imagery and teaching. My commercial work took me around the world many times giving me the opportunity to create images for advertising, corporate and editorial clients. Along the way, the work received recognition as well as numerous awards. I have further had the honor of having many of my photographs included in several public and private collections and exhibited internationally as well as having been published in magazines and books throughout the United States and abroad.
RDBD: What type of photography do you consider your primary genre and why? What does it mean to you? How did you become focused on this area of photography?
A.M.: About 8 years ago, I made the decision to stop doing commercial work and concentrate my efforts on my personal photography. That body of work has always centered around three themes; light, color and moments. Individually, any of them can be the basis for making a photograph. However, any combination of those elements can lead to something extraordinary. That, along with my photographic mantra, “avoid preconceptions”, has pretty much been my guide toward personal image making, otherwise I know I’m more likely to be disappointed by what’s not there and more likely to miss what is. Besides, I like the element of surprise. I’m not trying to influence "it" (the subject) as much as just capture what’s there. Eventually this body of work became the basis for my first book, The Color of Light (2012).
RDBD: What motivates you as a photographer? Specifically, why is photography important in your life? When you are tired of shooting, what gets you out the door anyway?
A.M.: Motivation has never really been an issue for me photographically. After all, I’ve always felt like the luckiest guy in the room having made my living doing something I loved. The idea that I never know what I’m going to find out there is the thing that keeps me going back for more. The one thing I can say about photography is that it has taught me how to see. What a great gift that has been!
Using that gift has allowed me to give back to the profession in other ways. Since 1991, I have had the privilege of teaching workshops and leading photo tours. I feel that I not only enjoy helping my students move forward but feel like I learn from them as well. Beyond that, I also have served as a member of the Advisory Council for the Santa Fe Center for Photography, the Houston Center for Photography and continue to serve on the Board of Advisors for the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.
As far as creative blocks, I find that maintaining some type of project can be a huge help. Most recently (2017) I published my second book, The Journey. In that book I wanted to trace my photographic life and illustrate it with examples of images that reflected my approach to photography as well as the journeys that were part of that odyssey. Also included is an in depth interview/conversation with myself and renowned curator, Anne Wilkes Tucker, that further discusses my career and more. I wanted the book to be for people who have a passion for photography allowing them to follow one photographer’s journey and the destinations that were encountered along the way.
Finally, it’s important to remember when your seeking inspiration is to understand that photography is a process. It’s a lot like going fishing...somedays we go out and catch a lot of fish and somedays we go out and catch none. As Garry Winogrand said, “Photography is mostly about failure.…What you didn’t get!”
RDBD: Please tell me why you chose the image to submit as your one image. What meaning does the image have to you?
A.M.: This image I selected to share with you is one of my favorites and deals with one of the great characteristics of photography, perception. It was taken in Yellowstone Park in the winter. I was travelling in one of those vehicles that shuttles you around in the snow. When it came to a stop, I got out to stretch my legs and noticed the view of the window and the ice beginning to melt with the man in the red hat centered through it. I made three exposures and didn’t think anything more about it until later when people would call and ask to purchase the photograph of “The Pope.” When I explain that I’ve never shot “the Pope” they refer to this image which I had titled “Red Hat, Wyoming 1989.” It doesn’t seem to deter them from purchasing it. However, I may re-title it, “Not The Pope.”
Contact Arthur Meyerson:
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a LINK TO BUY THE BOOK, which every photographer should have.
Thank you Mr. Meyerson, for an incredible workshop, and for taking time out of your schedule to answer these questions for the RedDotBlueDot community.