Joel Meyerowitz explains how he became "the magician of color" photography

Playland, Times Square, Manhattan, 1963
Playland, Times Square, Manhattan, 1963 (Image credit: © Joel Meyerowitz)

Joel Meyerowitz: A Question of Color is the new eponymously titled book from the legendary street photographer, co-written (if not co-titled) with Robert Shore. It chronicles Meyerowitz's early exploration of color film. 

Joel Meyerowitz has been shooting street photography before the term was coined, establishing himself as an icon of the genre. He has been documenting life in the US for over 58 years, influencing many of the styles seen by modern artists and photographers. 

His work has been exhibited in over 350 museums and galleries all around the world, and in 2017 was awarded a place in the Leica Hall of Fame while being dubbed "The magician of color". But how did Meyerowitz get this moniker at a time when color photography was preserved for holiday snappers? 

London, England, 1966 (Image credit: © Joel Meyerowitz)

London, England, 1966 (Image credit: © Joel Meyerowitz )

The book showcases Meyerowitz's first foray into color film photography, a journey of exploration through experimental images. The book delves into the industry-changing introduction of colored film, and how that impacted not only Meyerowitz's work but the social and photographic landscape in the US. 

At a time when the only 'serious' photography was in black-and-white, Meyerowitz started to experiment with both. When going out to take photographs he would take two cameras, one with black and white monochrome film, and one with the recently introduced color.

Central Park, New York City, 1966 (Image credit: © Joel Meyerowtiz)

Central Park, New York City, 1966 (Image credit: © Joel Meyerowitz)

He would capture a scene with both film stocks, often not knowing which one was which. Once developed, Meyerowitz was left with two copies to choose from. He could not understand the resistance to taking color photography seriously, asking "But why? When the world is in color?"

This attitude led to Meyerowitz being recognized, along with Saul Leiter and William Eggleston, as one of the great color photographers.

Joel Meyerowitz: A Question of Color © Thames & Hudson (Image credit: Joel Meyerowitz | Thames & Hudson )

Along with the beautiful photographs, there is also a conversation between Joel Meyerowitz and Robert Shore, an author of several books on contemporary art and photography. This conversation provides us with a detailed insight with a written personal account of Meyerowitz’s practice and life at the time, as told to Shore. 

Joel Meyerowitz: A Question of Color is published by Thames & Hudson and is scheduled for release on November 13 2023 in the UK and Australia, and on January 09 2024 in the USA. The book includes 194 images and will be priced at $25 / £20 / AU$47.75. It can be preordered at Amazon US as well as Amazon UK

You might be interested in the best books on photography, along with the best coffee table books on photography. You can also check out where Meyerowitz ranks among the 50 best photographers ever

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Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 

Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.