With over 3,000 nights spent in hotels and multiple million miles traveled, Birmingham, Alabama-based commercial and editorial photographer Art Meripol spent the last 25 years working as the travel photographer for Southern Living Magazine. Now, he’s adapting to being a late career freelancer–and loving it. Although it’s difficult to classify your work under a specialty after shooting a considerable amount of different subjects for so long, Art says he’s what Joe McNally calls “a specialist at being a generalist.”
One of those general things included the USGA’s Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham. In an interesting twist, Art was not asked to photograph the event, but the hustle of the crews setting the course in the midst of the before and after hours. They arrive at 4:30 AM to mow, blow, rake, and put the small touches needed to make a picture-perfect golf course.
The championship consisted of five days worth of golf matches, which gave Art the advantage of getting better shots the following day if he wasn’t satisfied with the results. He found the evening sessions to be a breeze, but the pre-dawn shooting to be the challenge. He evaluated how he worked with lighting:
“I knew they’d have large work lights they would move from one location to the next but had no idea how they’d look. I put an 8” reflector on a head and a 20 degree grid on it and just told him [the assistant] where to stand and to keep it aimed at the crew member I was shooting. I then worked the scene as fast as possible.”
Despite this type of assignment contrasting with what he’s used to, it gave Art an opportunity to step outside of his comfort zone and test the waters of a new process. Whether it’s his veteran-style of travel or otherwise, he has the same goal in mind when creating a photograph.
“I really like a photo to quickly convey a story or thought and to do it simply and with beauty. All those years for the magazine taught me I really do enjoy finding beauty in the everyday scene.”