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
After this period, Meyerson met a man who would come to have a major impact on his life as a mentor and friend, Ernst Haas.
Recalls Meyerson, “I took a workshop from Ernst in Japan and it was a life-changing moment for me. Haas was a philosopher, an artist, a poet and a photographer, and he was able to bring all of these disciplines together and present ideas photographically.”
After the workshop, Meyerson and Haas kept in touch and maintained a friendship that lasted until Haas' death in 1986. “I try to carry on a lot of what I learned from him,” he says.
Speculating on how Haas would have felt about digital, Meyerson notes, “He would have loved it for the ability to make affordable, archival color prints at the fine-art level. In Haas' time, top-quality color prints were made with dye-transfer, which was simply out of the reach of almost everyone. Haas also used to say that you shouldn't judge a photographer by the film he uses. While he was speaking about the debate between color versus black-and-white, this same idea carries through to digital. It's not about film or digital being a better medium; it's about using the best tool for your vision.”
It's clear that Meyerson's adherence to film isn't out of loyalty to the medium as much as it's about using the tool with which he's most comfortable. That said, there's also another issue involved.
“You can get on the digital highway, but if you don't know where your exit is, you can end up staying on it forever,” says Meyerson. “Jay Maisel refers to this manipulation phenomenon as digital's slippery slope.”
It's all too easy to get caught up in the process of digital and lose a sense of what it is you're trying to achieve. Photoshop offers so many incredibly powerful tools that you can end up doing things with the software for their own sake. When that happens, you've lost track of what it was that you were trying to do in the first place. Before you know it, you've spent hours, even days, taking an image on a road that has no end.
To avoid being sucked down that vortex, Meyerson prefers to do as much as possible in-camera. “Getting it right in-camera is a very difficult thing to achieve,” says Meyerson. “It's about great seeing.”
By getting the shot right when he presses the shutter button, he avoids the fallacy of “fixing it in Photoshop.” Meyerson happily uses Photoshop, but not as a crutch to repair images that he failed to get right when he was on location. He uses the software to make his image look like the scene he originally wanted to take.
As for his style of photography, Meyerson says, “More and more, I'm trying to simplify. Sometimes, I have to create something on a shoot, but I much prefer to take what's given. I also try to avoid preconceptions. Often, after you arrived, you'd be disappointed when a location doesn't match what you expected. I find that I can do better by evaluating what's given to me and then doing my best with that.”
Beyond the constant flow of commercial work, Meyerson continues to produce a broad array of personal imagery as well. He's in the process of bringing out a pair of books—one on working cowboys, the other a mid-career retrospective of color photography. While Meyerson believes that the pro has a responsibility to bring all of his or her artistic talents to bear on a commercial job, he's also a be-liever in balancing commercial work with personal work, such as his cowboy project.
Arthur Meyerson is a perfect example of a respected, working professional photographer who's at a crossroads. While he continues to shoot film for clients like Coca-Cola and Nike, he's increasingly moving toward digital in his personal work. He's working hard at becoming more proficient with digital capture and a digital workflow, but his uncompromising approach to his work has kept him in the business of working with film for now. For each photographer, the move to digital is a different journey, and Meyerson is taking his time merging onto that highway.
To see more of Arthur Meyerson's photography, visit www.arthurmeyerson.com.
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