NY Streets: Joel Meyerowitz

category: > Features, > Photography, < NYC Streets

written by: Jaap Proost

NEW YORK street photography is almost a genre to itself. The mix of rich and poor, black and white and locals and visitors that walk the streets of Manhattan gave some of the biggest names in photography inspiration to roam the streets. Like Joel Meyerowitz.


Born in 1938 in the Bronx, Joel Meyerowitz knows the streets of New York by heart. In 1962, after a short career as an art director, he became a street photographer. As a starting photographer he distinguished himself by using color films in his cameras. At that time most professionals considered color photography not as a serious art. When he started to capture street life Meyerowitz liked working during parades. A parade provided an alibi to photograph the crowds and it was an effective way to overcome his shyness and hesitation to point his camera at strangers. He learned to be bold but invisible.



One of his most famous pictures was made in 1975 on the streets of Manhattan.  A couple wearing camel coats disappears in steam rising up from the streets. ‘Photographers learn to accept the gifts that come their way, because surely life produces moments crazier than we can conceive. Just as the duo in camel coats disappear into the steam, a similar pair of coats enters the frame bearing a twin set of heads’, Meyerowitz explains in this book about his work.


Another highlight in his career was after 11 September 2001. Meyerowitz became the only photographer that had access to Ground Zero to shoot the clean-up process. He was the only photographer around because authority’s considered the area as crime scene and closed it for the press. Meyerowitz used a workers pass from the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation to get in and explained to everyone that this time in the history of New York also had to be recorded. The result is this book
. This site shows more work of Meyerowitz.





Click on the double squares in the lower right corner to see popout pictures

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