Joel Meyerowitz: phones killed the sexiness of the street

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by JDMvW, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  2. Yup! Thanks.
  3. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    This is ironic in spades:

    "Of his street images, my favourite depicts a Frenchman who has fallen outside a Paris Métro station one day in 1967... Everybody is looking at the fallen man, the chic young woman descending the station steps, the delivery guy pushing boxes on a trolley, a cyclist swivelling to get a better look at a stranger’s misfortune. A worker in overalls even steps over the prone man, carrying a hammer that takes on sinister import. “Those [censored by me],” laughs Meyerowitz. “Not one of them helps him up.”

    Did Meyerowitz help? Maybe after he got his photo.
  4. It is interesting, I am actually reading his book now. He recommends to get one zoom and stick with it, his choice Nikon 28-300.
    Annie Leibovitz recommending to chose one prime for starters, Steve McCurry using primes , guess everybody has own preferences.
  5. Sometimes, photography divides participants in life and observers of life - at any moment, despite a "ball and chain" of expensive gear, one can choose.
  6. Oh please, more longing for the good old days and sense-deadening nostalgia. If he can’t find excitement and connections to shoot on the street anymore, then it’s a little easy and convenient to blame cell phones. Just try harder, dammit, and spare me your excuses. Sounds like Mr. M is just a little old and jaded. The world is changing. Shoot something new and stop looking for the same old thing.

    Reminds me of some of my fellow sexagenarians who claim they’re invisible to younger people who have supposedly taken over San Francisco. They still can’t get over the fact that heads no longer turn as they walk down the street, which they got very used to in the eighties. Start relating in a different way and you’ll stop feeling invisible.

    And to Joel, look at the street for what it is instead of for what it was and figure out something compelling to say with your camera about it. It’s still very much alive. Or, retire to the beach. Your call.
  7. This is just another sensational article from the cash strapped, eu loving, clinton worshipping guardian. Read the following and work out how the sub came up with the title of the article

    Today, what entranced Joel Meyerowitz about the street is all but dead. “Nobody’s looking at each other. Everybody’s glued to their phones.” But street photography still exists? “It’s thriving but not in the way I used to do it. The best street photographers now show humans dwarfed by ad billboards. The street has lost its savour.”
  8. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    This got grumpy fast, didn't it? Thanks for the link.
  9. I’d say something more along the lines of, The laziest so-called street photographers show humans dwarfed by billboards. I’d also say, once is ok and enough. Dozens of these get old quickly. The street hasn’t lost its savour, though.

    A better example than easy-to-grab billboard juxtaposition photos would have been pics of people using their cell phones. :)
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  10. I thought that the idea of street photography was to document life on the streets. And try to get a well composed and interesting picture. I am drawn to the street photography of great photographers of the past just because they did preserve images of the past. While I did a lot of street photography in the 60s and 70s, today I confine myself mostly to what could be called bar and coffee shop photography. More difficult to be discreet when stationary compared with moving about on the street.
    As already noted above by others, the behavior and dress of people is different. Proportionally a lot more old people on the street than in the 50s and 60s. And men didn’t cover their ears like women when wearing a knitted stocking caps. It’s changes that makes street photography interesting.
  11. I've been mulling over this thread for a day, thinking about what Meyerowitz said and relating that to my personal observations. And was ready to post a response, along the line of him having a good whine and making sad excuses. But damn, after reading Fred's post, there's not a thing I can add.
    Spearhead and Fred G like this.
  12. It's rare to find (mostly) young people on the street who don't have their faces attached to their phones. It's a bit of a challenge to keep it out of street scenes. Ironically, if you're using a phone as a camera you are pretty much invisible.
    Brad_, Sandy Vongries and Fred G like this.
  13. It's definitely more pervasive with phones today, but there used to be a phenomenon called reading the newspaper that had people in public burying their heads. New York City subways at rush hour and a whole bunch of park benches were veritable feasts of heads buried in All The News That Was Fit to Print. :)

    By the way, skateboarders, bicyclists, and people playing sports on the street can be counted on not to have their faces attached to phones, with exceptions of course. And I still do find a lot of everyday people on the streets not using their phones. Actually, I think today's cars might be harder to work with than cell phones in people's hands. I look at older street photos and the design and variability of cars back then gave street photos something extra which I don't think today's cars do. Even in the future, I doubt we'll look back at today's everyday cars and feel the same way we do about cars of the 40s, 50s and 60s.

    But, again, I think a good photographer will work with what she's got and figure out a compelling story to tell . . .
    steve_g|2 likes this.
  14. So here's a shot I grabbed through the windshield while driving in Meyerowitz's NYC. There's plenty going on in the street. By the way it's with a cell phone. So what? But the participants are not using cell phones. There's plenty going on in the street if you look. I don't even find street shooting comfortable as I'm nervous as hell. I always think I'm intruding. Here're some more.

    Checking the Oil.jpg

    Checking the Oil.jpg
  15. "Those were the days which will never end"

    But the world moves on for ever and a day.
  16. There was definitely more potential for sexiness in an old-school phone booth (many of good street photographs were made around it) than whatever takes place on today's cell phone screens. Emojis don't count.

    But I agree that part of street photography is to show and provide a commentary on society as it unfolds and which today includes the sense of alienation of people staring at their phones, both in private and in public. Despite it being used as a headline, I'm sure Meyerowitz said it more in passing and he probably still knows how to make a great street photograph.

    When you remove the phones, the pull they can have becomes all the more visible :
  17. Connected technology will be used to constrain and reprimand. Street photographers should take responsibility and tell it like it is. The hell with all the self-righteous hashtags. Congratulations, you pushed a button.

    It's a fine line between being emancipated and being decapitated. We're in the twilight streets of brainwashed ideologies.
  18. I somewhat enjoy Meyerowitz talking about other photographer's work; he's very enthusiastic about that. As an image maker, at least on the street, I find him not that compelling. Especially when it comes to explaining your photographs or captioning/titling them to tell the viewer what it's about- that's usually bush league stuff. I don't want to know what was happening with the guy down on the street with people all around; if the photo has any power at all it's for the viewer to imagine. Explaining the context kills it.
    And dude, there are very few cell phones on skid row and in much of downtown LA as just one example. No excuses.

    Fred, if you read the article, it looks like he has gone or "retired" to the country. : )
    Brad_ likes this.
  19. Ray, I did read the article. My suggestion that he retire to the country was a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that he already done that.

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