Joel Meyerowitz: For the Love of 8x10
Joel Meyerwitz's name is synonymous with large format photography. His highly detailed photos are superbly constructed and full of exquisite color.
What few people realize is that Meyerwitz started his career as a black-and-white 35mm street shooter. The only reason why he married street photography and large format cameras is because he tried all film sizes and quickly realized the limitations. From black-and-white 35mm shooting, to capturing exclusively in Kodachrome, moving to medium format street photography, Meyerwitz realized that detail and vivid color were the reasons for waking up in the morning.
How to reconcile the speed of street photography and large-format was the problem that Meyerwitz spent years solving. “A hand-held camera allows you to react in a split second. With an 8x10 camera your approach to things is much more meditative. The basic difference was one of mechanics at first. What you can do with a small camera in your hand you can’t do with an 8x10 big box on a five-foot tripod. But for me there was the need to bring one experience to bear on the other,” he explains.
He never gave into the cumbersome characteristics of large format camera, he was dedicated to bringing it everywhere with him, just as he would with a 35mm camera. This dedication and curiosity has expanded photography's horizons and has left an historic change in the philosophy of street shooting.