Harold Feinstein

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Harold Feinstein
A black and white photograph of Feinstein taken in August, 2001
Feinstein in 2001
Born(1931-04-17)April 17, 1931
DiedJune 20, 2015(2015-06-20) (aged 84)
Known forPhotography
MovementNew York school of photography

Harold Martin Feinstein (April 17, 1931 – June 20, 2015) was an American photographer.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Feinstein was born in Coney Island, New York, in 1931. He was the youngest of five children born to Jewish immigrant parents. His mother Sophie Reich immigrated to the United States from Austria and his father Louis immigrated from Russia.[3] He began to practice photography in 1946 at the age of 15, borrowing a Rolleiflex camera from a neighbor.[4]

Early career[edit]

Feinstein joined the Photo League in 1948 at the age of 18. By 19 he had his work purchased by Edward Steichen for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.[5]

Feinstein had his first exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1954 and at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957.[6] He later held solo exhibitions at the George Eastman Museum (1957) and Helen Gee's Limelight Gallery (1958).[7] His photographs were published on the inaugural cover of the literary magazine Evergreen Review and in the leftist journal Liberation.

Critics of the period referred to Feinstein as a master of his art, and his work was influential in the development of the New York school of photography.[8]

Coney Island[edit]

While Feinstein photographed the streets of New York City and elsewhere throughout his career, his favorite subject was his birthplace, Coney Island. He returned many times throughout his life to photograph the boardwalk, the amusements and the diverse visitors to the beach destination. There he was able to find and photograph a broad range of the human experience, from love to lust, joy to despair, comedy to drama. He described it as a photographer's paradise.[9]

The International Center of Photography held an exhibition of Feinstein's Coney Island work, A Coney Island of the Heart, in 1990[10] and the Leica Gallery did so in 2015.[7]


Throughout his career, Feinstein taught photography through private workshops held in his studio, as well as at numerous institutions. Many of Feinstein's students went on to become fine art photographers of note; these included Mary Ellen Mark, Ken Heyman, Mariette Pathy Allen,[5] Wendy Watriss,[11] and Peter Angelo Simon.[12]

Additionally, Feinstein taught at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum School of Art, School of Visual Arts, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Maryland Institute College of Art, Windham College, and College of the Holy Cross[13]

Later career and commercial success[edit]

After decades of working primarily in humanistic 35 mm film photography, Feinstein started in 2001 to create work digitally, using a scanner to photograph images of flowers, seashells, butterflies, foliage and botanicals. Cataloguing his life's work, he found that the precision of digital controls, as well as the ability to duplicate images freely and receive instantaneous feedback, enabled him to be more improvisational and take more creative risks in his work.[14]

This work garnered Feinstein critical and commercial success. Feinstein published seven books of scanography, and his scanographic work was published several times in O, The Oprah Magazine.[15] Feinstein's image of a white rose became a best-selling item at the retailer IKEA.[16]

Feinstein was honored with the Computerworld Smithsonian Award in 2000 for his breakthrough in digital imaging.[17]


Feistein's work is held in the following permanent collections:


  • Focus award, Griffin Museum of Photography, 2011.[20]


  • One Hundred Flowers. Boston: Little, Brown, 2000. ISBN 9780821226650.
  • Foliage. Boston: Little, Brown, 2001. ISBN 9780821227398.
  • The Infinite Rose. Boston: Bulfinch, 2004. ISBN 9780821228753.
  • The Infinite Tulip. Boston: Bulfinch, 2004. ISBN 9780821228746
  • One Hundred Seashells. New York: Bulfinch, 2005. ISBN 9780821262061.
  • Orchidelirium. New York: Bulfinch, 2006. ISBN 9780821262054.
  • One Hundred Butterflies. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. ISBN 9780316033633.
  • Harold Feinstein: A Retrospective. Portland, OR: Nazraeli, 2012. ISBN 9781590053690.
  • Saying Yes. Portland, OR: Blue Sky Gallery, 2016. A print on demand publication of work shown at Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR.[22][23]
  • Boardwalks, Beaches and Boulevards. Ethos.ink, 2020. On newsprint.


  1. ^ Popham, Peter "Coney island kid: Harold Feinstein took some of the great photographs of New York at play.", The Independent, 2 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Obituary: NYC Street Photographer Harold Feinstein, 84". Photo District News.(subscription required)
  3. ^ Feinstein, Harold (7 May 2015). "A mother's love". HaroldFeinstein.com. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  4. ^ Feinstein, Harold (15 May 2013). "The Rolleiflex camera: Love at first sight". HaroldFeinstein.com. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Coleman, A.D. "'Seeing the life in which we live': The Photographs of Harold Feinstein" (PDF). Harold Feinstein: American Master. The Nearby Café. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  6. ^ Harold Feinstein bio at The Jewish Museum
  7. ^ a b Grimes, William (29 June 2015). "Harold Feinstein Dies at 84; Froze New York Moments in Black and White". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Photos Do Not Bend Gallery Harold Feinstein Bio". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Coney Island", ABC News Nightline, July 3, 1995.
  10. ^ "'A Coney Island of the Heart' at the International Center for Photography". 23 February 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  11. ^ Estrin, James (8 March 2012). "Partners in Words, Pictures and Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Artist Spotlight: Peter Angelo Simon". Panopticon Imaging Inc. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Harold Feinstein". American Photography Archives Group. 13 April 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  14. ^ Coleman, A.D. (2000). One Hundred Flowers. "Engendered Is the Flower" Harold Feinstein's Floral Photographs (First ed.). New York: Little, Brown. pp. 15–18. ISBN 0-8212-2665-7.
  15. ^ Casadonte, Tony (24 August 2015). "Harold Feinstein 'One Hundred Flowers'". South x Southeast photomagazine. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Why old masters are old hat". BBC News. 16 May 2005. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Guide to the Computer World Smithsonian Awards". Smithsonian Institution: Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  18. ^ As displayed when this search page was polled for "Harold Feinstein", 3 March 2017.
  19. ^ As displayed when this search page was polled for "Feinstein", 3 March 2017.
  20. ^ a b "Harold Feinstein tribute at Griffin Museum Focus awards", Griffin Museum of Photography, August 11, 2011; as archived by the Wayback Machine on 28 October 2011.
  21. ^ Chloe Coleman, "Born in the front car of the Cyclone roller coaster, a photographer who truly adored Coney Island", The Washington Post, February 1, 2017.
  22. ^ "Blue Sky Books" MagCloud / Blurb, Inc. Accessed 3 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Saying Yes - Harold Feinstein" MagCloud / Blurb, Inc. Accessed 3 March 2017.

External links[edit]