Turning Point

We had a theory that somewhere in the career of many a pro photographer there's one photograph that marks a turning point. It might be the one that brings the first recognition or first sale; or the one with which she proves to herself that, yes, she can make a living in this game. Perhaps it's the one that demonstrates mastery of a technique. Or (rare, but possible) the photograph that reveals a new direction.

We first began to explore these instances back in 1995, and it's with great pleasure that we now resume the quest.

He is known for his strong graphics, bright colors, and vivid imagination, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen even a few of his images (and you can see lots of them at his web site, www.davidm.com) that David Mendelsohn was a graphic designer before he became a photographer. He has been honored for his personal and commercial work, and his images have been featured in numerous exhibitions and included in corporate and private collections.

He cites this photo, taken with an F3 and a 24mm Nikkor lens, as a turning point for several reasons. "In 1983 I received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to travel across the country on Route 40 and take photographs. On that trip I consolidated my graphic sense with my ability to deal with people and take photos of them. This picture, taken in New Mexico, was a significant turning point because I'd always taken for granted the assumption that there was 'sweet light'-which was in the early morning and the late afternoon-and that was when you were supposed to photograph. But this was shot at high noon, and it was a small revelation when I realized that there's no good light, no bad light, no good color or bad color-it's all one thing that you can use creatively.

"At the time I was a graphic designer for the University of New Hampshire, and I'd discovered that I'd rather take pictures than assign them. Shortly after this trip I began my career as professional photographer."