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Book Bag: Joel Meyerowitz: How I Make Photographs Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

14 April 2020

This title is the first in a new series called Masters of Photography which presents a set of easily digestible lessons dished up by a, well, master of the craft. Joel Meyerowitz gets the ball rolling with this slim but engaging book.

We raced through it. Not only is it an enjoyable read but the images make their point immediately. You aren't confused for a single sentence or puzzled by what you're looking at.

That goes for the newbie as well as the pro, although the series seems aimed at those who have just developed an appetite for photography and want to do their own cooking.

We had the feeling we were standing next to Meyerowitz at the cutting board or the stove or over the sink and he was chatting about what he happened to be doing at the moment. All you have to do is take it in.

There are 20 of these little bite-sized lessons. So you may have heard a few of them before but not from Meyerowitz. He gives a personal spin to the tried and true.

In the chapter entitled "Photography Is About Ideas," he writes:

It took time for me to evolve as a photographer, to get to a place where my appetite was bigger, where my ideas about photography became more developed.

That's very nicely put. Let it roll around your tongue before you swallow it. "Photography looks like pictures, but it's really about ideas," he finishes the thought.

But that's after he's explained what you're after in "Push Yourself":

Sometimes chance provides you with an opportunity to do something bigger than yourself, something outside the scale and scope of your ambitions. It's those moments that drive you toward becoming the artist you can be. And that's the secret of any art form. If you reach beyond what you think are your limits, you'll extend and expand yourself; you'll become the next version of yourself.

That introduces his discussion of a project he undertook at the age of 62. Photographing the recovery at Ground Zero after 9/11. A little anecdote while you stand in the kitchen together whipping something up, you might say.

Photography, he says a little further on, is like food. You have to have it every day.

If you know what he means, you'll enjoy these 20 encounters with a master who loves to dish.

Joel Meyerowitz: How I Make Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, published by Laurence King Publishing, 128 pages, $19.99 (or $15.20 at

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