Photographer Arthur Meyerson, aka Don Arturo, interviewed Angela in June 2019. Meyerson is a renowned photographer who teaches at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and authored “The Journey” and “The Color of Light.”
AM: Where do you live and what do you do for a living?
AA: Portland, Oregon. I am a freelance arts writer, sometimes poet and sometimes writing teacher. Until 10 years ago, I was a daily newspaper writer and columnist for 25 years.
AM: Where/when did you first develop your interest in photography?
AA: When I was a 9 years old, my dad gave me an Instamatic. He always had a camera around his neck and I wanted one, too. I soon became the better family photographer. His true photography love was shooting trains or locomotives, as he called them
AM: Of all the art forms in the world, why photography?
AA: My paternal grandparents were painters and traveled the world with their easels, and I wanted to be like them — though I never knew them. But I couldn’t draw. Still one art teacher saved the day. She told me I had a great sense of design and color. I became a journalist and wanted to record the world. So it all came together with photography. Once photography went digital I was thrilled because I couldn’t handle the chemicals (I had eczema on my hands), which nudged me to choose writing over photography in graduate journalism school. i’m happy to no longer dip my hands in chemicals or develop film in the dark.
AM: What approach do you take to photography?
AA: I don’t like being inside or in a studio so I’d say I take to the streets or to nature. I like natural light, too. I try to keep it simple.
AM: How often do you photograph?
AA: Most rigorously when I travel, which is a lot these days, but I do take my camera to the back yard.
AM: Other than workshops, have you had any formal training in photography?
AA: Not really though I had lots of good art teachers and mentors from a young age, and I grew up in an arty family. At the newspaper I worked with photographers all the time and I picked up a lot, and I shot pictures for some of my own stories.
AM: What is your favorite genre of photography?
AA: Street stuff. I love the surprises, the humor, the ironies, the colors. But I like nature, too, all its simplicity and complexity. And I like to shoot horses and tennis and kids and flowers and and all kinds of people..
AM: What inspires you or where do you seek inspiration?
AA: Color, shape, sweetness and light. Admittedly I look for the calmness not the chaos.
AM: Who do you most admire (past or present) and why or who’s art do you admire?
AA: So many! Paul Klee, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Henri Matisse, Helen Frankenthaler, Annie Leibovitz, Joel Meyerowitz (especially “Cape Light”), Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Sally Mann, Raghubir Singh, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Victoria Maier, Eudora Welty, Keith Carter, Eugene Atget, Robert Mapplethorpe’s flowers, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Christopher Birkett, Fazal Sheikh, Pentti Sammallahti, Don Arturo! (not in that order).
AM: What is your greatest personal achievement?
AA: Raising my terrific son, now 29, as a single mom — not without help, however.
AM: Name somewhere and/or someone you’d love to photograph?
AA: India. I went last year to northern India and it exceeded all expectations, so I’d like to go to the southern part and to the Himalayas. Italy is a close second. Never a dull moment in those places.
AM: Do you have a favorite photography book?
AA: Right now Fazal Sheikh’s “Portraits,” Sally Mann’s “A Thousand Crossings” and Pentti Sammallhati’s work on birds.
AM: What do you collect?
AA: Books, art, jazz, plants, lipsticks.
AM: What is your most valuable possession?
AA: My health, curiosity and eyesight, and of course, my family and close friends.
AM: If you were to invite 1-5 personalities for a dinner conversation, who would they be?
AA: Joan Didion, Coco Chanel, Ghandi, Walt Whitman, and Bill Evans to play the piano.
AM: Aside from photography, what is your favorite pastime?
AA: Tennis, traveling, music, reading, gardening, cooking, poetry, critical writing.
AM: What camera and equipment do you use?
AA: For 40 years I used Nikons and have recently switched to the beast of a camera, a Sony RX10IV. One lens from 24-600mm! — but not that good for portraits, so I switch back to my Nikon. And I’m not above using my iPhone, especially indoors for quick and dirty things that can turn out pretty well.
AM: What is/are your goals in photography?
AA: To keep getting better. We’re planning a big shindig this fall with our Rajasthan photo guide, who is Indian, to sell work for his cause: girls’ education in India. And though I sell a few photos here and there, I’m more interested in the joy of a good picture and sharing it, touching someone. People respond more readily to photos than to poetry!
AM: Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know.
AA: A Masai chief in Tanzania asked me to marry him, offering me his Rolex (maybe a fake) as an engagement gift. I would have joined eight other wives.
AM: Do you have a website or some other place we can we see more of your pictures?