Joel Meyerowitz talks to NYC-ARTS about his celebrated career as a photographer, which started in 1962 and is still going strong.

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> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'NYC ARTS,' I'M AT THE TISH WNET STUDIOS.

TONIGHT, WE MEET JOEL MIREWOODS, A VIBRANT PRESENCE IN THE ART WORLD.

HE GREW UP IN THE BRONX AND GOT A DEGREE IN PAINTING FROM OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY IN 1959.

HE BEGAN TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS A FEW YEARS LATER.

ALTHOUGH, HE'S FOCUSED ON A VARIETY OF THINGS THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER, HE'S, PERHAPS, BEST KNOWN AS A STREET PHOTOGRAPHER.

IN THE TRADITION OF SUCH MASTERS AS ROBERT FRANK, HE'S ALSO BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN ADVANCING THE RECOGNITION OF COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY AS AN ART FORM.

♪♪ IN THE WAKE OF 9/11, HE WAS THE ONLY PHOTOGRAPHER TO BE GIVEN UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO GROUND ZERO.

THE DRAMATIC IMAGES CAPTURED THERE HAVE BECOME THE FOUNDATION OF A MAJOR NATIONAL ARCHIVE.

AN EXHIBITION OF SELECTED PHOTOGRAPHS OF THIS COLLECTION HAS BEEN SHOWN ALL OVER THE WORLD.

HIS WORK CAN BE FOUND IN MUSEUMS AND PUBLIC COLLECTIONS INCLUDING THE MET AND THE WHITNEY.

RECENTLY, NYC ARTS SPOKE WITH HIM DURING A VISIT OF THE GALLERY.

WHEN YOU FIRST PICK UP A CAMERA, IT'S NOT SO EASY TO GO OUT ON THE STREET AND TAKE PICTURES OF STRANGERS BECAUSE THERE'S ALSO FEAR, I DON'T BELONG HERE, OR THEY ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE IT IF I TAKE A PICTURE.

HOW CAN I BE IN THEIR INTIMATE SPACE?

SO IN A WAY, IT'S LIKE DANCE.

IT'S VERY POETIC.

YOU HAVE TO FIND THESE PARTNERS WHO DON'T KNOW YOU'RE PHOTOGRAPHING THEM WHILE YOU MOVE IN AND OUT OF THEIR LIVES AND MAKE PHOTOGRAPHS FOR YOURSELF THAT USE THEIR FACE, ENERGY, POSTURE, DRESS, COLOR, WHATEVER IT IS THAT EXCITES YOU AT THE MOMENT.

MY FATHER WAS A REALLY STREET SMART GUY, BORN IN NEW YORK CITY, A KIND OF TOUGH GUY ON THE STREETS, AND WHEN I WAS A LITTLE KID, HE OFTEN SAID TO ME, WHEN I WOULD GO WITH HIM ANYWHERE, HE WOULD JUST GIVE ME A LITTLE NUDGE AND SAY, WATCH THAT OVER THERE, OR, TAKE A LOOK AT THAT, AND EVERY TIME HE SAID, 'LOOK AT THAT,' SOMETHING HAPPENED.

IT'S LIKE HE COULD PREDICT TWO PEOPLE WERE GOING TO EMBRACE, DANCE AROUND EACH OTHER AND THROW UP THEIR ARMS.

I MEAN, HOW DID HE KNOW?

IN A WAY, I'M SURE THAT HE CREATED AN APPETITE IN ME FOR THE UNEXPECTED QUALITIES OF ORDINARY LIFE THAT PEOPLE WILL DO SPONTANEOUS, EXTRAORDINARY, UNEXPECTED THINGS SUDDENLY, AND IF YOU ARE QUICK ENOUGH TO WATCH IT, YOU WOULD EXPERIENCE PLEASURE, VISUAL PLEASURE, HUMAN PLEASURE.

I'VE BEEN ASKED SO MANY TIMES, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH?

I REMEMBER WALKING THROUGH PARIS, AND JUST WALKING DOWN THE STREET, AND SUDDENLY, YOU SMELL BAKING IN THE AIR, BUTTER AND SUGAR, AND YOU GO, OH, AND YOU'RE IMMEDIATELY, YOU WANT TO HAVE A COOKIE.

YOU TAKE TWO STEPS, AND IT'S GONE.

IN THE AIR, ON THE STREET WAS A LITTLE MOMENT WHERE THE FRAGRANCE WAS SO RICH AND COMPELLING.

TO ME, THAT'S WHAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS.

YOU WALK ALONG THE STREET, AND SOMETHING HAPPENS, AND YOU GET IT.

IT'S A VISUAL THAT IS AS PRECISE AS THAT FRAGRANCE THAT WAS ONLY IN THE AIR OF THE DOORWAY.

YOU GO RIGHT THROUGH IT.

SO WHEN SOMETHING MAKES ITSELF FELT TO ME, WHEN I GET AN IMPULSE, I RAISE THE CAMERA.

I DON'T EVEN HESITATE.

IT HAS TO BE LIKE THAT.

THAT'S PHOTOGRAPHY.

IT'S ABOUT THE FRACTION OF A SECOND.

I THINK IMPULSE, INTUITION, RECOGNITION, DESIRE, PASSION, APPETITE, YOU CAN CALL IT ANYTHING YOU WANT, THOSE ARE THE THINGS IN PLAY PHOTOGRAPHICALLY BECAUSE PHOTOGRAPHY IS ABOUT TIME.

CAMERAS HAVE THEIR OWN CHARACTERISTICS.

A SMALL CAMERA THAT FITS IN YOUR HAND, YOU KNOW, YOU JUST MOVE IT AROUND AND CARRY WITH YOU, PUT IT IN YOUR POCKET, YOUR BAG, AND IT'S PART OF YOU, BUT SOMETIMES THAT SMALL CAMERA DOESN'T REALLY DO THE JOB YOU WANT IT TO DO IF YOU'RE FINDING YOURSELF IN NATURE.

LET'S SAY, NATURE IS SLOWER, THERE'S MORE TIME IN IT, LIKE, IF THE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IS JAZZ, THE VIEW CAMERA AND NATURE IS LIKE THE CELLO.

IT'S VERY SLOW, AND YOU STAND IN NATURE, AND YOU CAN LOOK AROUND AND DRAW YOUR ENERGY FROM EVERYTHING OUT THERE, AND SO A LARGE FORMAT CAMERA, LIKE AN 8 BY 10 INCH CAMERA, GIVES YOU A WHOLE OTHER EXPERIENCE.

IT'S SLOWER.

YOU PUT IT DOWN.

YOU PUT THE CLOTH OVER YOUR HEAD, AND YOU ENTER THIS WORLD ON A SCREEN UPSIDEDOWN, AND IT HAS A WHOLE OTHER KIND OF MAGIC TO IT.

YOU CAN TRUST THAT IT WILL DESCRIBE EVERY SINGLE THING IN THE FRAME.

THERE'LL BE NO BLUR.

THERE'LL BE NO MOVEMENT.

IT'LL BE SPACE AND LIGHT AND DEPTH AND, YOU KNOW, THIS TIME.

♪♪ THE QUESTION COMES UP, HOW DOES ONE DEVELOP A BODY OF WORK?

HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR WAY INTO A NEW THEME OF A NEW SUBJECT?

SOMETIMES IT TAKES TIME OR, OH, I'VE BEEN MAKING THAT PICTURE A FEW DIFFERENT TIMES NOW, OBVIOUSLY, SOMETHING INTERESTING THERE, MORE SO THAN I THOUGHT, AND THIS HAPPENED TO ME WITH THE WORK THAT'S CALLED BETWEEN THE DOG AND THE WOLF, AND I DIDN'T KNOW THAT EXPRESSION, BUT MANY YEARS AGO, A FRENCH FRIEND OF MINE UPON SEEING A SEQUENCE OF THESE PICTURES MADE AT THE END OF THE DAY WHEN THE LIGHT IS FADING AND THINGS BECOME SLIGHTLY MORE INDETERMINANT, THESE IMAGES APPEARED IN MY WORK, AND I SHOWED THEM TO MY FRIEND, AND MY FRIEND SAID, OH -- WHAT'S THAT?

HE SAID, WELL, YOU KNOW, BETWEEN THE DOG AND THE WOLF.

YOU KNOW, THE DOG IS THE FAMILIAR DOMESTIC ANIMAL, AND THE WOLF IS THE SAME, SORT OF, BUT IT'S UNEXPLAINED AND SAVAGE SO WHEN THINGS GO FROM THE KNOWN TO THE UNKNOWN, THERE'S A SHIFT, AN EMOTIONAL SHIFT AS WELL AS A TONAL SHIFT, AND I THOUGHT, OH, THAT'S BEAUTIFUL.

I LOVE THAT EXPRESSION BECAUSE I FIND MYSELF OFTEN AS A SWIMMER IN A POOL WHICH IS THE DOG, IT'S VERY SAFE, BUT I ALSO WOULD SWIM IN THE OCEAN, AND THE OPEN OCEAN, IT'S WILD, AND I HAD BEEN MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS OF POOLS NEAR THE SEA, AND I THOUGHT, WHAT AN INTERESTING WAY OF ADDRESSING THIS SUBJECT, TO PUT THE POOLS AND THE OCEAN AND THE DUSK HOUR TOGETHER, REALLY WAS A WAY OF CONCENTRATING ON THIS THEME.

BEYOND THAT, THERE ARE ALSO JUST PLACES ON LAND WHEN THE LIGHT IS FADING AND YOU SUDDENLY HAVE, YOU FEEL GOOSE BUMPS, OR YOU FEEL A LITTLE BIT OF A SHIVER OF UNCERTAINTY, THAT ALERTS YOUR SENSES, AND YOU THINK, OH, I THINK, OH, WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

AND OUT OF THAT COMES THE POSSIBILITY FOR A NEW PHOTOGRAPH.

AT THIS MOMENT IN MY LIFE, I FIND MYSELF MAKING STILL LIFE.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I'M CHOOSING THESE OBJECTS, BUT THEY HAVE CHARACTER, MYSTERY, OR SOMETHING, AND WHEN I PUT TWO OR THREE OR FOUR OF THEM TOGETHER, IT'S AS IF THERE'S A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THEM.

MAYBE I CAN BREATHE LIFE INTO THEM BY FINDING SOME ASSOCIATIVE QUALITIES IN THEME THAT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE CONVENTIONAL STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE I'M MAKING IT.

MAYBE I COULD FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MYSELF THROUGH THESE DUMB OBJECTS.

THIS IS A REALLY ENGAING PHOTOGRAPHIC QUESTION FOR SOMEONE AT MY AGE RIGHT NOW.

WHEN I STARTED TO MAKE STILL LIVES, IT COULD HAPPEN QUITELY ACCIDENT BECAUSE I WAS DOING A BOOK COMMISSION IN FRANCE, AND I VISITED THE STUDIO IN FRANCE, AND IN THE STUDIO, I WAS AMAZED THE WALLS WERE PAINTED THIS PARTICULAR GRAY, AND AFTER A WHILE, THE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS GRAY, WHY GRAY, WHEN HE WAS A PAINTER WHO MADE COLORED PAINTINGS, IT PROMPTED ME TO GO BACK TO THE STUDIO AND ASK THEM IF I COULD TAKE THESE OBJECTS DOWN AND PUT THEM ON HIS TABLE TO PHOTOGRAPH THEM.

REALLY, I WASN'T TRYING TO MAKE ART.

I HAVE TO BE CLEAR.

I WAS JUST TAKING THE OBJECTS, PUTTING THEM ON THE TABLE AGAINST THE GRAY WALL.

I WANTED TO SEE WHAT THE RELATIONSHIP WAS BETWEEN THE OBJECT AND THE SPACE, THE COLOR SPACE OF THE GRAY WALL, AND WHAT DID IT DO FOR ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TURNING POINT ROLES IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN ART, AND THEN ONCE I DID THAT, AND I'M LIVING IN ITALY NOW, IT OCCURRED TO ME, OH, RANDY IS IN BOLOGNA, THAT'S THREE HOURS AWAY, I'M GOING THERE AND TO HIS STUDIO BECAUSE RANDY WAS ALSO VERY IMPORTANT TO ME AS AN ART HISTORY STUDENT AND A PAINTER, SO I WENT TO THAT STUDIO, AND I WAS ABLE TO ASK THE CURATORS THERE, TAKE HIS OBJECTS AND DO THE SAME THING, ONLY THE COLOR WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

HE WAS WORKING IN A VERY WARM-TONED, KIND OF GOLDEN, COLORFUL, ITALIAN ENVIRONMENT, AND THE OTHER WAS A COOL, RATIONAL, FRENCH ENVIRONMENT, SO TO PIT THE TWO AGAINST EACH OTHER AND LOOK AT THEIR OBJECTS IN A WAY INTRODUCED ME TO THE FEELING THAT, OH, EACH OBJECT DOES HAVE CHARACTER, IDENTITY, PERSONA, SOMETHING, YOU KNOW, AND PERHAPS I WAS HAVING A DIALOGUE WITH THESE MEN THROUGH THEIR OBJECTS, SO IN A WAY WORKING WITH THESE TWO IN THIS VERY BASIC WAY INTRODUCED ME TO AN APPETITE FOR RECONSIDERING THE WAY OBJECTS RELATE TO EACH OTHER IN SPACE.

♪♪

WHERE IT GOES FROM THERE, I DON'T KNOW.

I'M GRATEFUL FOR THE ENERGY I HAVE RIGHT NOW, AND THE WILLINGNESS TO TAKE ON SOMETHING TOTALLY OUTSIDE OF MY EXPERIENCE AND SEE IF I CAN FIND MY VOICE IN THIS TIME OF MY LIFE.

THESE OBJECTS IN THIS MEDIUM I LOVE SO MUCH AS I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY.

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