Joel Meyerowitz: a lifetime of passion and love for photography

To suggest that I am a tremendous admirer of Joel Meyerowitz would be a gross understatement. I have several of his books on my shelf and bedside table. I return to them several times a year to appreciate the brilliance and for inspiration. I’ve watched and heard countless interviews. He has been a guest on the Candid Frame several times over the years and there are number of great recorded interviews on YouTube.

Joel recently sat down as a guest on Talk Easy and I absolutely loved this conversation. It might be one of my favorite Joel Meyerowitz interviews of all time. It’s clear that the host, Sam Fragoso, has spent a great deal of time being curious about Joel’s work and genuinely appreciate the photographs. I love the format of the interview. Sam and Joel spend over an hour talking about Joel’s life as they flip through a number of Joel’s photographs.

I also learned a number of things in this conversation that I did’t know previously about the “why” behind some of these iconic images. Joel speaks from the heart about his life’s experience about his own journey and challenges. For someone that always seemingly comes across as happy and joyful, you can feel the pain as he describes his first marriage as essentially a long term loveless affair as well as his own father’s sadness in being in an unhappy marriage.

But the thing that comes out the most throughout the entire interview is Joe’s lifetime of passion and love for photography. At 82 years of age, he speaks with the clarity and poise of a much younger man who has just fallen in love. But in this case, we are talking about someone who has been making photographs for over 58 years, from the streets of NYC and Europe with a 35mm Leica camera to large format view camera on Cape Cod and New York and then to his most recent body of work — 365 days of self portraits during the Covid19 quarantine.

It’s a breath of fresh air to hear Joel talk about photography. You can feel the authenticity behind every shared sentiment and his words are poetic.

Thank you Joel for your amazing gift and for your inspiration.

Exploring Louisiana, 2021

I thought I would share some photographs from our trip to Lousiana last month. I’m healing quite nicely and just finished my fourth and final rabies shot from the dog encounter.

I also added a new subscribe feature to this blog. You can receive my posts via email now if you wish. I’m feeling motivated to post more frequently these days.

(Color photographs made with a Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Portra 400 film. Black and white photos made with a Contax T3 and Kodak Tri-X 400. Developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in California).

My first photo book

I love physical photography prints. Whether they are silver gelatin prints or ink jet prints. Small and large, color and black & white. I love them all. I also love them in a book format and over the last few years I’ve likely acquired over 20 photo books. The one I go back to for constant inspiration is by Fan Ho.

It’s always been a dream of mine to publish my work in a physical book format. I have had a number of ideas over the years but it’s all a work in progress that may or may not ever see the light of day.

A few months back I shared some of photographs from our recent trip to Hawaii. I didn’t post some of my favorite photos because they are personal and intimate family moments. But a few weeks ago, I created a photobook with Blurb. It’s a small 8″ x 8″, hardcover book with 70 photographs. I created exactly one copy and I absolutely love it.

If you haven’t created a photo book, give it a shot. Blurb’s software is super simple and you will be thrilled with the physical book experience. I know I am.

Attacked by a dog but feeling grateful

What a title for a blog post right?

Well before I get into that story let me share how my day went and thank all the women that came to my rescue.

We are in New Orleans visiting our daughter who is a student at Tulane University.

We started the morning with a run and ended up at our favorite breakfast spot, Mollie’s Rise and Shine. I didn’t bring my wallet but they take Apple Pay. But it didn’t work after trying multiple times. As I was about to give up, this nice young women who was eating her breakfast outside comes up to the counter, takes out her credit card and offers to buy us breakfast. I was so moved by her gesture. I ended up paying her back on Venmo and we were on way. Touched by kindness and our hot breakfast sandwiches in hand.

Later that afternoon we took a walk down Magazine Street. At one point my wife and daughter were a few blocks ahead of me as I was making some photographs. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a pit bull on a leash about 10 yards ahead of me. A few seconds later the dog leaps at me and escapes from the owners grasp of the leash. I suffered four bites, one was fairly deep before the owner was able to grab the leash again. I think the whole intense affair lasted less than sixty seconds.

I have never been attacked by a dog before. It was pretty scary. As I picked myself up and examined myself I could feel blood dripping from my leg, hip, hand and elbow. Two women came up to me right away to check on me. One of them had alcohol wipes and band aids. I thanked them for their kindness. The dog owner and his dog left the scene quickly without a word and before I could stand up.

My film camera took a beating when I fell but my phone still worked. I called my wife who found my location a few minutes later and helped me clean up my wounds and stop the bleeding. As we were about to get into the car another women came up to me with my AirPods that dropped during the whole encounter. Her mom took photos of the whole thing and offered them to me. I think I was was still in shock so I just said thanks so much for the AirPods but I politely declined the photos. I guess I didn’t want to relive the experience although I wish I had in retrospect. I would feel horrible if that dog bites another person, or god forbid a child.

We went to the emergency room and was treated by a doctor and nurse. Thankfully I didn’t need stitches but discovered another bite. I left with a tetanus shot and an antibiotic prescription.

My wife brought me back to our airbnb and I found myself reflecting on my day. While my wounds still hurt, and my mind has reoccurring flashes of the dog attack — I feel immense gratitude to all eight women that helped me yesterday.

I also feel so lucky. It could have been way worse.

Notes from the weekend

We went on a hike this weekend with some friends in New Hampshire. Laughter filled the trails as we caught up on old and new stories. The sky was blue and while plenty of snow and ice swept the landscape, the weather even at 38 degrees felt mild as compared to previous days. One couldn’t help but take in season’s change and appreciate that Spring is around the corner. A season for optimism.

Speaking of optamism. There has been much written about the problems with vaccine distribution in the United States and all the flaws at the state level. And it’s true there have been so many issues ranging from equity to education to tech infrastructure. But things are getting better, much better in fact. Over 70% of our oldest population are now vaccinated. And on Friday alone, just about 3M adults were vaccinated in the United States. Clearly a long way to go but that is remarkable.

* * *

I’ve started writing in my personal paper journal again. I had stopped for two reasons. 1/ I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of others reading it when I leave this world and 2/ I didn’t want to be so attached to certain memories or moments that I’m struggling with.

So I’m keeping my new journal entries much more succinct and honestly, positive in nature. Each day I write down three things I’m grateful for and three things that surprised me. Some of those journal entries sometimes lead to blog posts as it turns out :)

Lately

Hi. This morning I felt the desire to start typing again into my little blog.

Been thinking about some things to write down "publicly" lately. So this post is just going to be a random collection of a few things I’ve been reflecting on in no particular order.

1/ Leaving Tumblr for WordPress.

WordPress has been way more stable for me, and I love all the flexibility I have with WordPress. But the editor is so heavy and clunky to use. I really hope that WordPress delivers on a modern, lightweight editor. And I dearly miss being part of the Tumblr community.

2/ Echo chamber vs the mute button.

There is well understood move within our collective social media experience that many follow. We connect and follow folks that we instinctively agree with. As a result, we put ourselves into an echo chamber, and little diversity of thought pierce through. Well, last year, I started following many folks that represent the other end of the political spectrum in an attempt to leave my little echo chamber. I did it for a year. And last week, I either unfollowed or hit the mute button on nearly all of them. I just couldn’t take the "pandemic will be over in 90 days" predictions every month, or an obsession about crime in their city without dealing with the underlying causes, or a lack of outrage about the poor vs bad faith arguments about "socialism." I find Twitter much better following people I genuinely like.

3/ Life changes during a pandemic.

One thing I’ve noticed with my friends, family, and professional colleagues is how many folks are taking a deep look into their lives and making a change. My friend Jerry calls this radical self-inquiry which I’ll leave for a future post. I’ve seen folks leave their marriage. Others have left their firms — including ones they started. Others, taking a break. Others getting taking care of their bodies. Others signing up and committing to therapy. Founders steeping down from the CEO role. This pandemic has created space to deeply reflect on how we want to spend our time on this planet. I have also made some big decisions about how I want to work going forward, which will be very different than I anticipated just a year ago.

Ok, that’s all for now. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.