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Member Spotlight - Josh Meister


[ April 27, 2009 ]   Josh Meister is an Atlanta-based photographer who's been working professionally for about three years. Clients include AT&T, The Morrison Agency, Cartoon Network, Atlanta Magazine, and Primetime Race Group. In addition to shooting, Josh does digital retouching, printing, and teaches at Portfolio Center.

What made you want to be a photographer?
When I was about 10 years old, I went with a friend to visit his father's studio. I walked in and was awestruck by all the beautiful photos from Michael Pugh's trips across the globe. Right then and there, I decided that I wanted to make amazing images and capture moments in a unique way that could inspire others.

I started begging my father to let me experiment with his Nikon F until he got so annoyed that he bought me my own SLR. I took pictures of everything and everyone I came into contact with.

In high school, my art teacher was a great mentor. He recognized that I had the drive to make a career out of this art and encouraged me to 100% commit to the idea that I'd spend my life shooting.

Who and what are your influences?
Cinema is a huge influence for me. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's (Amelie, Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children) edgy imagery, unexpected camera angles and playfulness with lighting are something I strive for. I also appreciate his relationship with his actors and the emotions he pulls from them.

Art is another biggie. Salvador Dali is one of my all-time favorites. His manipulation of shape, the changeability of a static image, the way he's able to move you through a piece - these are all useful qualities. Also, the feelings that his art provokes and the mystery involved - it's intriguing. It pulls you in and gets you invested in the image and the situation, questioning what's real or what makes sense. That's something I play around with (Photoshop vs. in-camera work) and hope to develop more as I mature in my career.

There's several great photographers out there that I look up to as well. Jim Fiscus has an amazing skill for capturing moods and expressions in faces that say so much. His work with textures and skin inspires me as well. I had the unbelievable opportunity to work with him as a studio assistant for two years right after I finished school. He taught me a ton about the importance of attention to detail and telling a story through an image.

As a relative newcomer to the industry, how do you promote yourself and win clients?
It's all about creating a personal connection. I created a dream list of clients I respect and would like to work with, and have been hitting the streets, doing a lot of cold calls to get a foot in the door, then hoping they respond to my work when I do get to meet with them. It's hard though - I don't think I've mastered it by any means.

So who are some of those dream clients?
Miramax Films, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Travel Channel. I'd love to hang with Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern and get to check out some of the places where they film. They'd be great subjects. (And trying out the food they're chowing down on wouldn't be so bad either!) Mainly I want to work with clients that have unique visions and appreciate breaking the rules, seeing where that gets you, and remembering to enjoy the ride along the way.

You seem to wear a lot of hats - in addition to shooting you proessionaly retouch, print and teach - how does this affect you as a photographer?
I feel that all of these roles are elements of a shot - you learn different aspects of how the ultimate product can be achieved as well as have the benefit of being about to come at it from varied angles. I'm well versed in the capabilities and language of post and know how much of a part it needs to play in shots.

My students always keep me on my toes because their visions are so diverse and often unexpected - they're coming at it from a much different place, and I have to figure out how to push them to take their images further and how to wind up with the product they want. It's not much unlike a typical client honestly.

You started a new hobby recently - brewing beer. What's been your most successful batch?
My oatmeal stout is choice! But I'm working on a blonde hefeweizen that's going to be pretty good too.



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