Joel Meyerowitz talks French nonchalance

As Joel's Arles show opens, we look back at his earlier photographic jaunt around Europe, half a century ago
Joel Meyerowitz. Photo by Maggie Barrett. Image courtesy of Rencontres d'Arles. © Maggie Barrett
Joel Meyerowitz. Photo by Maggie Barrett. Image courtesy of Rencontres d'Arles. © Maggie Barrett

Joel Meyerowitz’s retrospective at Rencontres d'Arles opens today. Entitled Early Works, the show includes many of the US photographer’s best-know images of New York City. Yet Joel’s style wasn’t only formed on the streets of the NYC, but also on the boulevards of Paris. In 1966 he travelled to Europe for the first time, familiarising himself with the countries that first nurtured 20th century humanist photography.

In a video interview, filmed to promote his Phaidon book, Taking My Time, Joel describes shooting one particularly successful image from that trip. This one is a favourite of’s as it speaks so directly to one of our passions - watching the world walk by from a café table in a European capital while downing cups of high octane coffee. The photo was taken in Paris in 1967. In our video below Joel describes it thus:


Joel Meyerowitz Paris, France 1967
Joel Meyerowitz Paris, France 1967

“I look at that picture and it’s an absurdity - there’s no way for them to get away from the table!  People are absurd and I think part of the joy of making photographs is that you run across this kind of insanity every single day in one form or another.”  

Enjoy the clip; if you're going to Arles, enjoy the show, and if you're not, take a look, instead, at Joel’s wonderful two-volume retrospective Taking My Time


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