A workshop with Joel Meyerowitz
"Street Photography is Jazz"
I love photography workshops. You acquire new skills, debunk some myths and get inspired by not only the workshop leader but also the other participants. I make it an annual goal to attend at least two workshops. It does not matter if they are just a few hours long or last a few days. Some workshops are actually free and this is how I attended my first workshop, with Leica to boot! Most Leica stores will have short free workshops on the use of their cameras and I attended one in London on the Leica M which only confirmed that I was lusting after the right camera for me. It helped me focus my saving and I checked regularly with second hand dealers until I was able to pick up a Leica M 240, the camera I currently use. But let’s say that you live far from a major city or are unable to travel to workshop locations; let’s also say that your dream is to have a workshop with the great Joel Meyerowitz (always dream big!). There is now a solution which I recently tested during the Beast from the East which stuck me at home for a while (for those who do not live in the UK, this was the cold snap which the UK media dubbed The Beast from the East: it brought very cold weather, a little bit of snow and a lot of disruption in the UK). I signed up for the new workshop online with Joel Meyerowitz created by the Masters of Photography (https://mastersof.photography/) . I was not too sure how the workshop would work but who can resist Joel Meyerowitz!
The workshop consists of 34 lessons in the form of videos ranging from a few minutes to just under 30 minutes each. They cover everything from an introduction to his photography and his influences, to how to look at pictures and your surroundings, how to build a project, make prints, composition, colour, light, B&W photography, and so much more. There are also workshops with 5 photographers with different styles, from unusual beautiful seascapes (unusual because they really stand out from the run of the mill seascapes), street photography in B&W, portraits, conceptual photography, etc. I am sure each of us can relate to at least one participant. The video lessons take you from NYC to Italy, from city streets to the countryside, to Meyerowitz’s studio in Italy. This is not a workshop on what setting to use on your camera (there is some of that but not much), rather is it how to look, what to look for, how to express yourself and your ideas. You watch Meyerowitz take the photographs, explaining his thought process, showing you on the back of his camera the photograph he just took. Each video is accompanied by notes (often giving you projects to try) and a transcript of the whole video (very helpful). I must say this workshop exceeded my expectations and I suspect I will often return to various videos over the years. It can be accessed on any of your devices and watched as often as you want. The scripts can be downloaded as pdf. Meyerowitz is a natural teacher and extremely generous and open in his approach.
Where I Find Myself - A Lifetime Retrospective
And since we are talking about Meyerowitz and his body of work, having recently celebrated his 80th birthday he has taken the opportunity to publish a wonderful new book, “Where I find Myself – A Lifetime Retrospective”, which is an absolute gem. One of the reasons I like Meyerowitz so much is that he is a very versatile photographer: from street photography to reportage, to still lives, to landscapes and portraits. This book gives us a tour of his extensive career in a very approachable and highly readable manner, in reverse chronological order (surprising at first but it does work well in this book). This is a beautiful book made with an open heart by a remarkable photographer.
Here is a snippet from the Joel Meyerowitz's workshop: