Joel Meyerowitz, Bay Sky Storm, 1987

Joel Meyerowitz (1938 – ), Bay Sky Storm, 1987, chromogenic contact print. Middlebury College Museum of Art. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Nichols, 2014.118.

One of the most highly regarded color photographers of the second half of the twentieth century, Joel Meyerowitz published his first book of photographs, Cape Light, in 1978. His glowing images of the coast and towns of Cape Cod struck a popular chord, and the book went on to sell 150,000 copies. A follow-up project, the Bay/Sky series, was produced in the 1980s near Meyerowitz’s summer home in Provincetown. Like the images in Cape Light, the Bay/Sky series was shot with a large format Deardorff camera that resulted in detailed, meditative images.

Working with an 8 x 10 view camera, Meyerowitz moved away from the street photography he had practiced previously and experimented with longer exposures that conveyed a sense of luminous stillness. Bay Sky Storm captures a transitional time between clear and stormy sky—an ominous time reflected by the boat that moves to shore and the patterns of the waves on the sand. Norman Mailer wrote of such photographs in the introduction to Meyerowitz’s book, Bay/Sky, “So he treads with the lightest touch and the most exquisite sense of the moment into which those turns of the atmosphere that inform us of the wayward and not always unsinister whims that breathe in colloquies between cloud and sky, as if it is in the flux itself, and nowhere else, that we can find our few absolute statements of existence.”1

Meyerowitz would go on to photograph a different kind of storm: the destruction of the World Trade Center in his book Aftermath, published in 2006. The only photographer given access to the site in 2001, Meyerowitz produced a record of the efforts and bravery of the workers who assisted in the clean-up process.