Paul Kessel: The Last Stop: Portraits of Coney Island
It’s not easy to be a street photographer. It takes great concentration, split second instincts, and the ability to see many things at once. Photographer Paul Kessel has those abilities, as his work reflects layered seeing of tableaus of every day life–small moments of complexity that reveal one story after another and keep the eye moving. A native New Yorker, for the past decade Paul has traversed the city for hours each day in search of visual inspiration–he looks for light, for intimacy and the big picture. For this series, he concentrates on Coney Island and while the work feels very contemporary, it is steeped in the history of street photography of that region. Paul has recently opened an exhibition of this work, curated by Harvey Stein (who has his own legacy of making work in Coney Island) at the Umbrella Arts Gallery in New York City. The exhibition runs through September 30th.
Paul Kessel had a career in clinical psychology, psychoanalysis , and university teaching. Just before his seventieth birthday in 2008, he began taking classes at the International Center of Photography in New York City. He stayed for nine years, taking over fifty classes in addition to numerous workshops elsewhere and private consultations with a number of photographers. Since 2011 he has been immersed in street photography with over twenty group exhibits and three solo shows. He has won numerous awards including being named one of Lens Culture’s top 100 street photographers and Popular Photography featured his “True Believers” series in the June 2016 issue. He is the winner of a national competition and won jurors choice in an international competition.
Current exhibits include: winner of Juror’s choice PH21 Gallery, Budapest; group exhibit and publication South x Southeast Photo Gallery and Magazine, Georgia; Portals on PhotoPlaceGallery and recently Aviary curated by Paula Tognarelli, Director of The Griffin Museum, MA.
I began photography late in life when I wondered into The International Center of Photography in New York City in 2008. I stayed for nine years taking what may be a record number of classes, perhaps more then fifty. Additionally, I took numerous workshops elsewhere and studied privately with several photographers.
Previously I had a career in clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and university teaching. I always had a camera and now and then over the years would take a few pictures but I knew nothing about photography or camera operation.
At some point I became interested and immersed in street photography and that is how I have been spending my time for at least six years. I began by asking permission to photograph people, moved into candid portraits, and now, candid street scenes. I use only a full frame 35mm lens.
I began entering contests and I have been in about twenty group exhibitions as well as having three solo shows. I won a national competition and juror’s choice in an international competition. My work was featured in Popular Photography a year before the demise of the magazine. I don’t think there is a connection between the two events. – Paul Kessel
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