Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Meter (’96)

February 25th, 2022
Category: Alumni News

Jonathan Meter with his family

Jonathan Meter (PMFS ‘96) is a commercial still life product photographer, shooting fashion, beauty products, and food. Many alumni will remember his mother, Dora Ficher, who was a Kindergarten Assistant Teacher at PMFS for many years.

As a student at PMFS, Jonathan enjoyed playing with his parents’ cameras. He recalled a time in third or fourth grade when his “mom bought this Olympus camera with a zoom lens that came out and a flash that flipped up.” Dora taught him how to use it, and Jonathan felt drawn to the camera as a machine. “It’s more about the process and the tools that I use than the final product for me,” he said.

Jonathan went to Friends Select School after PMFS, where he took a photography class and learned to use a dark room. While he was earning his degree in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, his interest in photography really took off when he became a photojournalist for the university newspaper. Around this time Dora was beginning her fine art career, and she taught Jonathan the basics of Photoshop and graphic design.

Now Jonathan “enjoy[s] bringing other people’s ideas to life,” photographing everything from handbags, clothing, and lipstick, to artfully arranged food. A recent project was photographing sourdough desserts for the new cookbook “The Sweet Side of Sourdough” by Caroline Schiff. The pandemic has turned many home cooks into sourdough bakers, so it was the perfect time for Jonathan to shoot these scones, cookies, and cakes.

The main thing Jonathan has carried with him from PMFS is his relationships with teachers, which he still maintains. He remembered teaching Varley Paul’s kids to swim, saying “She was such a great teacher for me, and I really appreciated being able to give back and be a part of the life of her kids.” He said that he still thinks often about his time in Dottie Leonard’s class, especially his trip to Mexico, and liked it “when I was going to Friends Select in the city, I would run into Dottie a lot while she was jogging around the art museum.” Frumi Cohen and Bonnie Templin both have a special place in Jonathan’s heart. And of course, there’s Heidi Schifferli. “Heidi literally is another mom to me and I feel so lucky that she’s been in my life. I feel so lucky that I got to have her as a teacher and a mom, and now as a grandmother to both my daughters who love her.”

When asked for advice for PMFS students, Jonathan said, “Listen, keep an open mind, appreciate people for who they are.” For budding photographers, Jonathan recommends learning how to use a camera (or even a camera phone) in manual mode, and treating photography as a physical activity by moving your body, which will help you see things differently.

When Jonathan has time, he enjoys photographing his family and landscapes. He is sometimes inspired to do a fine art project, like, he said, while cleaning out his closet, “I decided that some of the t-shirts that I really loved that I had to retire I would induct into my hall of fame.” His “T-Shirt Hall of Fame” is now housed on his Instagram, with photos of the beloved shirts and write-ups of their personal histories. He hopes to make this an annual project, and eventually put together a show. Jonathan can also be seen at concerts, camping, hiking, cooking eggs, and riding his bike to work with his daughter on the back. He has the same best friend as he did at PMFS. Jonathan lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jessica and their two daughters, Michaela and Annalise. See his photography at jonathanmeter.com or follow him on Instagram @johnnymeats.