Arthur Meyerson: Award-Winning Pro & A Dedicated Amateur, Part 1
A native Texan widely-acclaimed as one of America’s finest photographers, Arthur Meyerson has traveled the world creating award-winning advertising, corporate and editorial photographs, as well as an impressive body of personal fine art imagery. He’s won numerous awards including Adweek’s Southwest Photographer of the Year (three times), as well as gold medals from the New York Art Directors Club, the Houston Art Directors Club and the Dallas Society of Visual Communications. Besides his commercial work, Meyerson’s fascination with light, color and capturing the moment has culminated into an impressive body of images that are held in public collections and have also graced the pages of a long list of major photographic publications. A photographer with a strong commitment to his profession, he also teaches photography, conducts workshops and does individual mentoring. Not surprisingly, he is also a lifelong Leica enthusiast. Here, in his own laconic and well-chosen words, is the amazing story of his achievement and ongoing quest.
Q: What camera and equipment do you use?
A: Initially I began with a Leica M4, then an M6 and later an M7. Today I rely solely the Leica M9 with a 35mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH lens.
Q: How would you describe your photography?
A: I’ve always tried to follow the style of the short story writer, trying to say the most with the least.
Q: Were you a serious enthusiast before going pro and when did you first become interested in photography as a mode of expression or as a profession? Did you have any formal education in photography or with a mentor and was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?
A: I never planned on becoming a photographer. As a journalism major in college, I was required to take a photography course that was really more about printing and processing than taking pictures, but that’s where the magic began in the darkroom, watching those images come up in the developer! From that point on I was hooked. I think the term serious amateur would apply. Since the term amateur derives from the Latin word, amare meaning “to love”, I feel it still applies to me! After graduation, I traveled to Europe shooting pictures and trying to teach myself as much photographically as possible. When I returned to the United States and reality kicked in, I needed to get a job. Not having the technical background that I assumed was necessary to become a professional photographer nor the ability to assist someone, I decided I should go into the family construction business. That lasted a few years, but all the while I was getting deeper and deeper into photography. Eventually I decided that I had to give photography a try and the rest is history. I was in the right place at the right time and the work I was producing eventually began to get recognition — first locally, then nationally and finally internationally. Throughout that time, I was reading and studying the work of all the great masters — Weston, Cartier-Bresson, Frank, Penn and Newman. All of them had an influence on me. But when I got into color there was one person who had the most influence of all — Ernst Haas. In 1984 I had the good fortune to travel to Japan with him and a group of photographers. From that point on he became my friend and mentor. Not only was he a brilliant photographer, he also had an uncanny ability of sharing his wit, wisdom and philosophy by teaching and sharing with others. All that I learned from him I have tried to carry forward in my own workshops and mentoring.
Q: What genre are your photos and can you tell us something about what it means to be a successful commercial photographer while at the same time pursuing your personal creative passion for photography?
A: My photographic life has been made up primarily of two parts: my commercial work and my personal work. Some photographers don’t make that distinction and that’s fine, but not for me because it’s always been about shooting photographs whether I‘m getting paid for it or not. With commercial assignments, I’m hired to go out and create photos that help solve a client’s particular problem or help create a specific image. It all sounds glamorous, but creating visual solutions is the name of the game regardless of the circumstances. No matter what, you’ve got to come back with the goods. There’s pressure, there are deadlines, there are unusual circumstances, there are demanding clients and there are no guarantees. But that’s what you’re being paid for. In my personal work, there is no pressure. I am able to go out and be influenced by whatever I see or whatever interests me — light, color, a moment, etc. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes not. But the main thing is that I have the camera with me. I’m out there and I’m looking. It’s all about strengthening your ability to see.
Q: How did you first become interested in Leica?
A: The Leica name is legendary not only because of the quality of the equipment, but also because of those who have worked with it. For much of my commercial work I use SLRs, but I’m always looking for something to help take my work in a different direction — a different way of seeing that’s less obtrusive. The Leica rangefinder was the answer.
Q: What approach do you take with your photography?
A: For me, being from Texas, my approach with my Leica is very much influenced by the law of the Old West, “Shoot first and ask questions later!”
-Leica Internet Team