NPR logo Coney Island To Korean War: Meet Photographer Harold Feinstein

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Coney Island To Korean War: Meet Photographer Harold Feinstein

Harold Feinstein is 80 years old. And though he has run in the same circle as photographers you may know (W. Eugene Smith), though the big-shot curators have praised him (Edward Steichen), though Life has published him and many museums own his work (Museum of Modern Art) — you very well may not know his name. A few folks are trying to change that.

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This past weekend, Feinstein received the Living Legend Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Boston. Jason Landry, curator of Boston's Panopticon gallery and guest blog contributor, is also spearheading a campaign on Kickstarter to get Feinstein's work published.

Harold Feinstein

Panopticon Gallery hide caption

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Panopticon Gallery

Actually, Feinstein already has several books — collections of his recent color photography, mostly quiet and meditative images of flora and fauna. What Landry and others are trying to propagate, though, is the canon of black-and-white work that covers ground from 1950s Coney Island to the Korean War to still lifes, nudes and New York City street scenes.

Feinstein was born on Coney Island in 1931, which explains his affection for the place. "It is classic Americana exuding the spirit of generosity and common humanity that is the best of the American spirit," he writes on his site, introducing a set of photos that spans six decades.

Twenty years later, in 1951, he was drafted for the Korean War. "My attempt was to capture the humanity of all involved," he writes about those photos, "and find beauty in the midst of tragedy." In his 20s, Feinstein was part of the Greenwich Village art scene, and actually moved to what would eventually become known as the jazz loft.

Over the course of his 65 years as a photographer, his work has been published in major publications and widely displayed. In short: Feinstein's photos are very much worth a look. See even more on Panopticon's site.