Joel Meyerowitz requires little introduction. He is a living legend in street photography. Beginning with his pioneering of color street photography, more accurately color photography in general, Meyerowitz has innovated and trail blazed his way through five decades of making photographs. For a few years now Joel and I have corresponded, mostly me nagging him about opinions on my work, which he graciously entertains albeit with moments of harsh criticism. However, I do want to say that it was Joel who offered up, albeit most likely inadvertently, the title for my first book - The Human Fragment. Despite our aesthetic differences, I've always maintained an immense respect for Joel Meyerowitz and what he's done for the world of photography.
For a long time color photography didn't interest me too much; I am a black and white kind of guy. Lately though, given my project involving disposable cameras and my Harinezumi color work, which ended up being a full-length book, color has really come crashing in on my creative life. Given this, I revisited the work of Joel Meyerowitz and came to really appreciate his brand of genius. So I got in touch with Joel, once again, and we hashed out an interview. Here's that conversation:
Michael: Joel, you began shooting color at a time when color film was perceived as amateur. Have you ever regretted this? Do you think color, in some way, helped you to express your inner self in a way which monochrome would have perhaps stifled? Color is very emotive after all.
Joel: I have never regretted my beginnings in color. In fact by starting that way I was actually freeing myself from conventions, which of course, due to my own innocence, I didn't really know existed. So color was a basic force in my development and I learned, early on, that it had an emotive power that needed to be recognized and which made me become a kind of early missionary for color.