Monday, April 4, 2011

Joel Meyerowitz

When thinking about Meyerowitz work, it is important to keep in mind his intent: to capture as completely as possible the feeling, the atmosphere, or a scene. His use of the color is supposed to be a purely accurate description of what he sees. As simplistic as this seems, it is interesting to look for what it is that he chooses to include. Though he is trying to be honest in his 'document' of the environment, he is still making choices as to what to include and what not to include. In this image, for example, he makes the decision to include the car, and not just a little bit of it. He portrays the feeling of this particular place as the tan interior of what looks like an overheated van. Some how, the inclusion of so much of the van makes it feel warmer. Although I am sure it is hot outside too, the color of the interior and the way the light falls through the windows amplifies and confines the feeling in a way palm trees and blue skies wouldn't.

In this image, it is the handling of what is in and what is not in the frame that really show Meyerowitz attention decision making. He places the frame in such a way that he can get the most out of the scene. From the sliver of a man on the far left to the person entering the frame on the right, from the central figures knees to half way up the skyscrapers behind them. It feels like each decision he made was something of a compromise; he chose to leave out the feet of his subjects to show the little bit of the sky that gives the city its feeling of ascension. He cut back on the man to the left to show the motion of the one on the right. Perhaps the most striking feature of the photograph is the strong diagonals coming from either side. Though the close in on the picture, they are characteristic of the depth and seeming endlessness of the streets in the city. 

This photograph stood out because of the blatant use of the limitations of the photographic medium. In much of Joel Meyerowitz work, the camera becomes lost in his attempt to include as much as possible. Here however, he is not trying to hide the camera; instead, he uses the limitations of a slow shutter to enhance the feeling of wind and motion that the picture has. The wispy clouds and the swirl of the laundry play off each other, giving the impression of a gusty day. This is counteracted by the solid form of the house which fills the right half of the frame as a imposing force, there fight the wind. Though the close crop and use of motion blur seem to depart from Meyerowitz typical style, he uses them effectively to portray the feeling of that particular moment. 

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