Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Arthur Meyerson - Mixing It Up
Arthur Meyerson's road traverses the world as he looks for the graphic, visually captivating images his clients have come to expect
One of the most respected and sought-after commercial shooters around, Arthur Meyerson has been in this game for more than 30 years. The consummate professional, Meyerson takes his craft on the road, producing commercial work for a variety of companies and clients. Between shooting gigs and a pair of ambitious book projects, he also maintains a busy teaching schedule, educating up-and-coming photographers as they struggle to find their place in the photographic firmament. What we found surprising about Meyerson and his images, however, is the fact that he continues to shoot almost all of his commercial work on film.
Says Meyerson, “It's a comfort-zone issue. When you're working for a client on location, you better get the shot, and I'm more comfortable doing that with film. In fact, I've turned down jobs when the client needed 100-percent digital work because I simply wasn't confident in my ability to deliver up to my standards.”
While this surprised us at first, of course, it makes perfect sense. Meyerson was brought up with film and he has mastered its subtleties to the very highest level. As he works to migrate to digital, a full shooting schedule, combined with clients that continue to ask for film, keep him from diving headfirst into a full digital workflow.
Discussing his work, Meyerson says, “It's hard for me to sell [my clients] on digital, particularly when I'm still trying to figure it out for myself. My personal work has been moving heavily digital for some time. I'm fortunate to be working closely with people at Nikon to help me become more proficient. On a personal level, I want to experiment, but not for the work that pays the bills. I want and need to be completely comfortable.”
There's much more to digital than the capture side, of course, and when Meyerson says he's working to become more proficient, he's most referring to work with a digital camera. Once he shoots film for a client, depending on who the client is and what they need, he's just as likely to scan the images and send CDs as send the slides as they are.
Meyerson is constantly traveling on assignment. “Ninety-five percent of my work is on location,” he says. “I shoot with a variety of gear, letting the nature of the work dictate the tool I use. I have everything from Nikon digital SLRs to Nikon 35mm SLRs to Hasselblads and even an 8x10 view camera. Because I'm not fully up to speed on digital, I'd need to have the budget to bring a digital-savvy assistant with me if I was shooting the job digitally. However, when I travel on assignment, I always try to do some personal work and for that I bring a digital SLR. The digital camera allows me to experiment in a way I can't with film. I think that's the greatest single thing about shooting digital—the instant gratification of being able to see what you get as you get it.”
Particularly on location, Meyerson refers to himself as a picture-taker rather than a picture-maker: “I'm more involved with capturing what's in front of me than creating something that's not there. That's just how I like to work.”
Following in that vein, Meyerson admits that he isn't heavily involved in large-scale Photoshop manipulation. He uses Photoshop as a tool to bring an image to what he saw rather than trying to build an image that was never there.
Meyerson's approach as a picture-taker stems from the route he has taken to get to where he is now. As a journalism major in college, he was forced to take a basic black-and-white photography class. For the first time, he learned the depth of photography and the technical aspect of crafting an image in the darkroom. Combined with his exposure to the great photography magazines of the time (Life and National Geographic), a fascination with photography took root in Meyerson, even though it wasn't what he was doing to make a living.