Harvey Stein at The Wells Point

In this Zoom presentation, Harvey Stein was interviewed by Bob Patterson, They explored Harvey’s motivations, bookmaking, passion for Coney Island, long-term personal projects, and maintaining a long-term career in photography.

Bob Patterson is the founder and publisher of Street Photography Magazine. His mission is to create a digital platform that gives street and documentary photographers the ability to showcase their work and share their vision with a worldwide audience. Bob began making photographs at the age of 10 with the family Brownie camera, developing film and printing photos in a makeshift basement darkroom. In 2013 he merged his professional management experience with his love of photography and fascination with technology to create Street Photography Magazine. 

Harvey Stein was stationed in Germany as a lieutenant in the US Army when he took up photography at the age of twenty-two. A Pittsburgh native, he studied engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, then pursued graduate studies at Columbia University’s Business School. Fascinated by what he calls the “variety, excitement and strangeness of New York street life,” he was “hooked and photographed all the time.” 

After obtaining his MBA in the late 1960s, Stein remained in New York and worked in the advertising world. He took photography classes at Parsons School of Design/The New School and New York University. As he recalled: “My first and most influential teacher, Ben [Benedict] Fernandez, a terrific street photographer, said, “get a Leica, use a 21mm lens, and shoot at Coney Island.” Being the good student that I was, I complied.” 

Stein began teaching photography classes in 1976 at the International Center of Photography, where he has been ever since. He has also taught at the School of Visual Arts, The New School University, Parsons School of Design, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University of Bridgeport.

His first book, Parallels: A Look at Twins (E.P. Dutton, 1978), is a six-year investigation of identical twins with quotes by the twins. The book Artists Observed (Harry Abrams, Inc, 1986) is his study of 75 well-known American visual artists in their studios, from Andy Warhol to Keith Haring. Harvey created his photographs between 1980-1986. He made his first book of Coney Island over 27 years (1970-1997.) It chronicled the people and amusements of this American cultural iconic location and was published by W.W. Norton, Inc. in 1998. Movimento: Glimpses of Italian Street Life (Gangemi Publications, 2006) follows a ten-year investigation of Italian public behavior in major cities of this country. Coney Island 40 Years (Schiffer Publishers, 2011) documents the many changes and events that the amusement park/beach/pier experienced since his first book. From 2013 to 2020, he published in rapid succession four more books, Harlem Street Portraits (Schiffer, 2013), Briefly Seen: New York Street Life (Schiffer, 2015), Mexico Between Life and Death (Kehrer, 2018), and Then and There: Mardi Gras 1979, (Zatara Press, 2020). 

Harvey will admit that producing books is often laborious and a lengthy process. But he finds it an efficient way to have some of his work seen more widely and over a more extended period than most other distribution methods.

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