arthur meyerson – the color of light

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Arthur Meyerson

The Color of Light

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I never planned on becoming a photographer. But just like a great photo, it was a matter of coincidence… a combination of, “right time, right place”. I was lucky. For the past forty years, I’ve been a commercial photographer. Those assignments introduced me to people that I never thought I’d meet and gave me the opportunity to see places and things I otherwise never would have seen. Since then I’ve traveled to over 90 countries and all seven continents. And while I diligently worked those client assignments, I continually made photos for myself documenting my travels. A photographer friend of mine reminded me that living a life in photography is like having a license to steal experiences! And those experiences allowed me to create a body of work that has now become my book, “The Color of Light”.
For me, this book represents an extended photographic project. The pictures presented in “The Color of Light” are what I consider my “personal” work.  That is, the non-commercial images… those I found interesting and shot for my own pleasure. They are photographs that are less about technique and more about a pure passion for seeing and capturing what I saw. While the subject matter and locations are diverse, the pictures are related to one another because they highlight the three themes that interest me the most in photography; light, color and moments. Light produces color. Light can be soft or intense… color can provoke or excite. It can also inform. At their best, light and color can come together at a moment in time and create an atmosphere, emotional response and/or a sense of place. For me, that is the power and joy of the color of light.

Bio

Arthur Meyerson is recognized as one of America’s finest color photographers. Since 1974, he has produced award-winning work for magazines, advertising agencies and major corporations. Articles and exhibitions of Meyerson’s photographs have been featured in books, magazines, museums and galleries. A photographer with a strong commitment to his profession, Arthur conducts workshops and leads photo tours throughout the U.S and abroad. In 2012, he published his highly acclaimed book, The Color of Light, a collection of some of his personal color images from the past four decades, spanning 90 countries and all seven continents.

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Arthur Meyerson

The Color of Light

 

37 Responses to “arthur meyerson – the color of light”


  • There are some very very beautiful shots. Thanks for share.

  • The Real Deal. Arthur Meyerson, making magic for decades. It’s nice to see your work here, so consistently strong and well seen. Classic. Maybe even “old school,” but in the best way. I can hear the motor drive and the exposure bracketing, feel the slides on the light table, the squint through the loupe… yes yes no no no no… ’cause that, kids, is the way it used to be done. There was no shadow slider with Kodachrome, no spinning the ISO dial to 3200 (ASA in those days). It was 25 or 64 or maybe, just maybe, you had a roll of the ASA 200 in the bag. More than 1/4 stop off and it was in the bin.

    Inspiring, Arthur, that you’re still getting a kick out of making pictures. Thanks, Burn, for spreading the word from this color master.

  • Totally fabulous!
    This is some of the finest work ever seen on BURN.
    Thank you BURN editors and Mr. Meyerson!

  • BAM BAM BAM….I just got slapped in the face by each and every single one of these shots.
    Truly love this work.

  • I agree with Carlo. Such excellent work. Really enjoyed every frame. Looking forward to seeing more from Arthur Meyerson!

  • Shit that’s good.

  • Wonderful use of colour here: what an eye! Congratulations Arthur, this is colour photography at the highest level.

    Mike.

  • Here, here! I second all of the above.

  • Great website too, Arthur. I’ll be following your blog, thanks.

    Mike.

  • federico agostini

    So beautiful! Can’t help but image 9 evokes Ernst Haas’ “Rice planting festival”, Nara, 1984

  • Federico,
    Your comment is most interesting and perceptive. I was in Japan with Ernst Haas who was leading a photo tour when this photo was taken!
    Thank you,
    Arthur

  • Thank YOU, Arthur!

  • er…. should have read, “Hear! Hear!”…

  • SIDNEY and ALL

    For sure I am a big fan of Arthur as well as a good friend…the man can take a color photograph….

    This does bring up however a huge conundrum for me….Arthur Meyerson is a professional photographer…Certainly not a young emerging photographer, but one with lots of commercial experience and a proven track record…Burn was set up to show the work of photographers who are trying to break into the marketplace…After 6 years of looking at work from all over the world and setting up the EPF and totally doing Burn for the emerging, the real truth for “popularity” with this audience is to publish the pros….the icons….for sure icons are icons for a reason….

    I guess this is quite similar to a “warm up band” for a rock concert of a superstar….so mostly Burn publishes “warm up bands” and then an occasional superstar….if i wanted to be “popular”, i.e. getting a comment like yours for Arthur, I would only publish the icons, from NatGeo or Magnum or whatever…..i could switch the percentages…for example publish mostly pros and only sometimes emerging..i have it set up for the reverse…now i publish mostly emerging with the once in awhile pro like Arthur….

    your thoughts? more pros? less emerging?

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Just show good work whoever it’s by. Beginner or Master. The real joy of Arthur Meyerson’s work is his real love of photography, it shines through in each and every image. Looking at his work was totally refreshing and inspirational. For me there is nothing wrong in shooting a picture just because you like the scene and it moves you. There doesn’t always have to be a story behind all the work you shoot.

    That’s my opinion anyway.

    Cheers, Pete.

  • David,

    I agree with you. I like this photos, but I also know who is the author and that this is he result of many years taking pictures. Personally I prefer to see emerging people, with many different points of view, stories, styles or ways to take pictures (mobile for expample). And sometimes a pro with an interesting work, like this one with his great color pictures. These pros are or have been an inspiration for the emerging ones, who can bring a fresh air to Burn.
    cheers

  • David,

    Personally I think you have the mix of emerging and iconic photographers just about right on BURN. Even if I had never heard the name Arthur Meyerson before, his photos have an immediate authority and impact that reveal years and years of experience. The main purpose of BURN should, I think, be to continue exposing and encouraging emerging photographers, which I believe it succeeds at, but once in a while to showcase the very highest level of the craft is inspiring. It could be seen, for one thing, as analogous to interviews with ‘name’ photographers that have sometimes graced the pages of BURN and which have been an outstanding feature. In this case, you are letting a sample retrospective of the photographer’s work stand in the place of words in a conversational interview… what could be more appropriate than letting a photographer’s pictures speak for themselves?

    At this point it is probably true that BURN has the clout to publish nothing but big name established photographers if that was what you wanted to do… but of course it isn’t, and there are plenty of other resources for finding and looking at such people’s work. BURN is still unique, at least to my knowledge, and as I said, I think you have the mix just about right. Looking back over the evolution from the early days of ‘Road Trips’ to this point, it has been an incredible achievement.

    I also love the slightly tongue-in-cheek new video ‘Photo Tips’ feature, which adds a welcome spice and humorous note while at the same time actually being spot-on appropriate.

    Cheers,

  • Unrelated, yet all connected. After seeing these, I’m in a much better mood than before. Happiness in vibrant color.

    DAH, to your question – I like that Burn focuses mostly on the “warm up acts” with the occasional headliner. The bulk gives people possible exposure when they wouldn’t get it before, and displays like this serve as inspiration along with a bit of humility.

  • Great light, great colors, great moments: great photos, great work. Thanks Arthur for these superb, impassioned and inspiring images. I can’t say no more.

  • At last Burn features once again some rare air and this has nothing to do whatsoever with being an established or an emerging photographer. This work has the wow factor sparkling everywhere. As far as I’m concerned I want Burn to keep the same ratio of emerging and established photographers…
    I suppose most or all these images were shot with film? Am I the only one who feels the photographic life has only turned ever so more complicated since digital arrived? These days there are so many options after the photo is taken. It used to be easier with slide film, you either got it or didn’t. Ok I’m perhaps oversimplifying the whole process, but I’m a bit tired of white balance, noise, highlights shadows, tiffs, etc and etc. But I’m really and truly fucked… The last film lab in my area, capable of developing slides properly closed eight years ago…

  • I hated #14. 1-13 were pretty good, though.

  • This is what greatness looks like.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who doesn’t enjoy these ‘pretty’ but mostly rather banal pictures.

    I couldn’t help but think of Pinkhassov who manages to communicate an implicit narrative as well as using beautiful light

  • As much as I loved seeing Arthur’s amazing work on here, I did feel like it was a deviation from what I thought Burn was all about.

    But reading your explanation David, I truly see you point and your analogy is spot on.

    I do prefer coming here to see the warm up (indie) bands, but its nice to have a taste of someone who has made it.

    Also, its a lot harder to find the ‘indie bands’ than it is for the superstars and burn does a great job of that for me.

    Cheers.

  • It’s funny, colour just doesn’t affect me the same way it does so many others. I accept the power colour has in an image, the way it can push or pull the composition, or the way it can eliminate the need for perspective, but it usually goes over my head that it’s doing so.

    Looking at the abstract examples here, where Arthur has so effectively flattened the elements to the picture plane, I can see where maybe I should smarten up. Many of his pictures which excite me the most do so because of the way colour has been used to compress the structure, which goes against the normal approach of giving depth to an image using colour. Akaky’s much-despised #14 is a good example; “Chicken”, “Peepers”, “Corners” probably wouldn’t work so effectively if they were shot in monochrome.

    It’s a revelation that warrants further study; I’m grateful to have viewed this essay.

    —————

    David, I’m with Paul on keeping the ratio of emerging and established photographers as is. I like how once in a while we can view how the seasoned photographer has arrived at their “vocabulary”, or how they have expanded the language of photography specifically. It’s more important to me to see the struggle some emerging photographers are having; it has even greater educational value. It’s like viewing a contact sheet and seeing the thinking behind the journey, instead of looking at the final destination, and wondering how the artist got there.

    Besides, there are plenty of other sites devoted to the exposure of established work. No need for BURN to descend down to their level. :)

  • I’m very much a fan of this kind of photography, both from a color perspective and a perspective perspective. I take this as a kind of “best of” retrospective; the only story being told being that of the photographer’s visual proclivities, which in this case is an interesting, and instructive, story.

    As to the lament about film, I can’t help but point out that these are digital works or you wouldn’t be looking at them on a computer screen. It’s dry likely that if you see them as large prints in a gallery or museum, they would have gone through a digital stage as well. Film is no more necessarily true than digital. Films are works of art in themselves. They are designed to translate light into color or greys in aesthetically pleasing ways. Some like Kodachrome or Velvia were fantastic, most not so much. But with digital you have the power to design your own film to your own tastes, or choose among thousands of presets created by others. Personally, I like the control.

    As for the other thing, I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what they should publish. These days, especially, we are all free to publish our own visions of what should be. In general, what keeps me coming back to burn are photo essays that are intellectually an/or formally challenging and or somehow instructive. I particularly enjoy work that manages those things from an outside-the-mainstream perspective. Not that I don’t appreciate a pretty picture now and again, but those alone would not sustain me. As for the name of the photographer, unless it’s someone I know and like personally, I care not a whit.

  • I think something will be lost if Burn decides to just showcase the “pros”.
    The ratio of both emergent and pros is part of the equation of why burn is what it is…..in my opinion.
    By the way…David….conundrum is a very good white wine ;-)

    Funny thing about film….a few months ago Alex Webb was here in Miami giving a talk.
    He was showing a few prints and someone asked about film and well…..as usual the whole digital/film talk started but Alex skillfully nipped it quickly but before ending it he pulled out a print from the gallery storeroom that he had shot with a digital camera. I cannot say if i would have been able to detect it for myself but he said he decided not to put it up because he felt something was lacking…and you can actually see it….very interesting. He used the word “thin” which reminds me of how musicians used to describe digital instruments.
    In comparison to all his other prints (shot on film) the digital one did look funky. I cannot explain it but it did seem to lack something that the others didn’t.
    This of course does not mean one is better than the other….I saw DAH’s huge prints from Rio and elsewhere and they all looked amazing! and they were all shot digital not film.
    What I like and feel with digital is sort of like a numbers game…..you can shoot almost like crazy because you do not have the limitation of 24-36, etc exposures of a roll of film….since you are able to shoot more my simple logic is that you just get better and better by the mere fact of repetition….the more you do something the better you become at it.

  • To all of you who have taken the time to view and comment on this work,thank you! I accept all your thoughts and comments… both pro and con. Photography is, and should be, a very personal craft. You cannot and should not try to please everyone with your work. More importantly, you should be true to your own vision. In doing so, you will find your audience… or rather they will find you.

    My thanks again to David for allowing me the opportunity to share this project with you.

    P.S. For those who were curious, the breakdown of film vs. digital photographs in the book are: 65% film and 35% digital.

  • Just to be clear, Mr Meyerson, my dislike of #14 has nothing to do with your photograph, which in the two seconds just before I realized what I was looking at I liked very much, and everything to do with my acrophobia. I’m sorry, but I don’t look down very well. I like ground level in all of its manifestations.

  • Akaky, I must be honest… I have acrophobia too. But in my commercial work, I forced myself to work from various points of view… roof tops, parking garages, edges of buildings (Sears Tower…YIKES!), etc. A lot of my work involved shooting from helicopters with the door on my side removed and occasionally a harness holding me into the chopper. And as long as I had the “little black box with the lens” in front of my eye, I was fine. It was only when I didn’t that I realized the client wasn’t paying me near enough!

    Don’t look down!

  • I also enjoyed every frame. I thought #14 was a delight! Using colour as a compositional tool in a compressed, two dimensional picture works fantastically. It presses up against your eyes. There’s nowhere to go ‘into’ the frame, just around it. Form and content, back and forth, and so each one makes you consider the other that little more. It’s more than what it is, and that’s a great picture.

    On emerging versus established (I won’t say pro). If burn were a showcase I can see the argument to keep it purely emerging. But if it’s a gallery or a stage, where we hope that some audience will be drawn through, then a headline act or two doesn’t hurt for footfall. That’s the whole idea of the warm-up act. The headline brings them exposure, they get the party started.

    But that’s not it either for me. Since RoadTrips, where I was just a lurker, burn (RT) has been a dialogue. Both here in the comments and in the imagery. I *love* the dialogue between the sometimes virtuoso, sometimes still-wrestling-with-it emergers and the on-song old hands. When that visual dialogue spills over into the comments it’s a special kind of magic.

  • I would be sad if either were to disappear – the emerging or the pro… it will probably be good to give the biggest percentage to emerging, but I don’t think it has to be a huge percentage. 60/40 would be good… 70/30 ok.

  • Arthur’s bio starts out with this statement: “Arthur Meyerson is recognized as one of America’s finest color photographers.” I immediately thought recognized by whom? I shouldn’t have worried, as the adoring Burn groupies make it clear.

    In a post earlier, David refers to emerging photographers as “warm up bands”, and pros like Arthur as “rock stars”. In this essay, I would characterize Arthur’s work as a warm up band – photography that was a prelude to the edgy photographers who are moving photography forward as emerging artists.

    Keep ‘em coming, David. I want to see what I can’t shoot, not what I can.

  • @ “Bob”
    I guess if you could shoot this, you would, and you’d have the resume to back it up. And you’d have prints in collections, and you’d be teaching all over the place. Today’s edgy photographers may be legion… for now. Let’s see who’s around in 40 years, and how edgy they look then. Granted, you, too, can bring out your 300 2.8 and shoot something similar. Lots of people might be able to create something like Mr. Meyerson’s, or his contemporary Jay Maisel. Or Ernst Haas. Arthur did it on demand, for clients. And then for himself. Something wrong with that?
    By your definition, everyone who came earlier than any contemporary artist is a warm up band. I guess The Beatles were a warm up band.
    Is he the VERY GREATEST? Maybe not, probably not. But is work consistent and does it show mastery? I think it does. He came before the “edgy” people you (sort of) reference (who are they?)
    I’m far from an adoring Burn groupie. I do recognize Arthur’s body of work and his accomplishments however.

  • Guys, that line of discussion leads nowhere fast.

    We’ll be healthier, happier, more skilful observers by looking and appreciating broadly regardless of how narrow our tastes are. You don’t have to like what you see to develop an appreciation for it. There are better questions than who warms up for who, who is great or greatest, who sold more or who is more universally recognised. What is interesting to you? Why does it command your attention? What are they seeing? How am I seeing it? How are you seeing it? Can I see it from your point of view? Do I like the way I see, you see, the way the artist saw — and what does that say about us?

    Because knowing ourselves and each other is one of the greatest joys of life. One line of questioning leads us closer to knowing our internal sources of inspiration, the other not so much.

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