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Professional Contexts Blog

Joel Mereyowitz

Joel Mereyowitz is an admired photographer, an advocate of the use of colour in the 1960s; a time when there were arguments of whether colour photography should be seen as serious art. The lecture was being held by the Martin Parr Foundation, alongside the new edition of Wild Flowers.

I admire that he has been a photographer for sixty years and still finds it interesting. He enjoyed being challenged so loves to dip in and out of his comfort zone, piling up things that he thinks he knows how to do and then changing the landscape in which he is working. I really hope that in the future I have the same love for photography as Mereyowitz does after all this time.

Wild Flowers came to be from the realisation that in his hard-drives he had numerous unseen photographs with flowers in them, it was as if they were waiting to be found and compiled together. Living in New York city, flowers were not a common sighting, yet he found that he had 150 photos of them.

After discovering all of these flower photos, he started to look for hidden flowers in the everyday. The photographs in the book were all made by chance, few of them were staged which I think makes the photographs more special. Because of them being made by chance, there was a mix of cully composed 10x8s and snapshot 35mms.

Mereyowitz provided some interesting discussions on colour and black and white photography, stating that colour was easier to work with as it is closer to what reality sees as we see in colour.

He was very against creatives mimicking other photographers, but I think that we are at a stage where this is inevitable to be producing work that is completely original in aesthetics and ideas. When work is made that is unlike anything you have seen before, it does stand out more but this should not be an expectation, but a strength.

Street photography is not something which I am particularly interested in, but I was fascinated in the process of how Wild Flowers was made and the view of the flowers being surprises within the city is strange to imagine as someone who grew up in a rural area. The quality of the images are really beautiful and each bring a new mini narrative into a wider picture, with the presence of flowers being the only thing tying the images together.

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