One of Meisel's first jobs was to work for fashion designer Halston as an illustrator. He also taught illustration part-time at Parsons. Meisel never thought he could become a photographer. He admired photographers like Jerry Schatzberg, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Bert Stern. He felt that illustration was a thing of the past and found photography as a lasting medium. Later on, while working at Women's Wear Daily as an illustrator, he went to Elite Model Management where Oscar Reyes a booker who liked his illustrations allowed him take pictures of some of their models. He would photograph them in his apartment in Gramercy Park or on the street: on weekdays he would work at Women's Wear Daily and on weekends with the models. One of them was Phoebe Cates. Some of these models took their pictures to Seventeen magazine to show their model books and the people at Seventeen subsequently called Meisel and asked if he wanted to work with them.