Archive for October, 2007

It’s a Life #2

Posted in Media, Uncategorized on Thursday, October 4th, 2007

I have been photographing seriously since I was 14 (not necessarily very well!). That’s 64 years, and because I make my own prints (a philosophical matter) I realise that I have outrun my capacity to print what I want to print. It has an extremely dampening effect on shooting new work. Do I need another negative? When will I print it ? Shall I make three?; Shall I make six? I will definitely not print the image again…etc.etc. Not to mention the dissapearance of SG bartya paper. The whole thing is paralyzing in terms of producing work. Of course I still see photographs every time I walk down the street , but they end up in my head archive, not my print archive.
I decided to fight the impasse [block?] by making a collage from tests that I had processed and saved over the years…I had a big box..enough for two, plus one for dear old Marilyn which I have not yet begun. I did the collage and when people ask me what it’s about, I refer to the title “It’s A Life. ” That’s it – a bunch of fragments glued together by a viewpoint. Will I rip up some prints to do more? I don’t think so, but it is tempting… gsz

If you would like to see “It’s a Life #1 or #2 for possible acquisition by your museum collection, contact me or one of my dealers for information and a readable scan.


It’s a Life #1

Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, October 4th, 2007


In memoriam- Lou Bernstein

Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Lou_Bernstein_Wash_Sq_NYC_1951 ©George S. Zimbel 1951/2007

Lou Bernstein changed my life, but he never knew it. As the summer of 1949 approached, I decided to stay in New York and freelance. I felt that if I made it that summer I could make it as my life’s work after I finiished Columbia.

On one of my many trips to Peerless Camera Store on Lexington Avenue I told my plan to Lou who sold photo supplies. As usual he had a helpful suggestion..actually not a suggestion, more like an order that if obeyed, would help move me toward my goal: “You have to sign up for a course at the Photo League…it will help you get a handle on what it means to be a photographer. (Lou had already seen some of my work and had a hint of my direction.) So, besides giving me a bill for the supplies he wrote out the address of the Photo League and told me to check it out. I did and was awed by all the serious activities that were listed on their bulletin board. Not to mention that I saw Gene Smith talking to a guy who later became my friend (and probably mentor), Jacob Deschin, the Photography critic of the New York Times.

I signed up for a course with John Ebstel that was a combination of philosophy and technique . At the same time that I was shedding a lot of arty concepts, I was learning to be myself photographically. This started me on a road that I still travel 58 years later.
So, Lou Bernstein, thanks, and may you rest in peace. george zimbel

Stuff from George

Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007


Irish Dancehall, The Bronx 1954 ©George S. Zimbel 1954/2007

I was sorry to hear about the death of John Szarkowski, the retired curator of photography at MOMA. I am happy for him that he had returned to photography as a photographer. I am sure it gave him pleasure and completed the circle.

Another loss is Ted Hartwell. I have a story to tell about our limited but wonderful relationship. A few years ago at an AIPAD show I got tired and sat down on a bench. Next to me was another guy, somewhere around my age (I am now 78). We started to talk about how much there was to see, and the negative effect of the sheer volume of photographs to look at. He asked me what I did and I told him. I think it was a year or two after my IVAM retrospective. Then I asked him what he did and he told me he was Curator of Photography at Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I commiserated about the pressures of such a job. The layman will never know what goes into creating an exhibit and getting it on the wall, not to mention establishing a distinguished photographic collection. I know.
Before we parted he asked me to send him my catalogue. Of course I took several years, but I recently started thinking about our meeting and finally sent it. That was two weeks before I heard he had died.

I have always had the feeling that a photographer must have a sense of premonition and that this sense makes him/her ready for what is about to happen,good or bad, in front of the lens or not. I have found this in my life, not only in regard to photography.

Which leads me to other observations since I am lucky to be here to make them. I remember coming down to MOMA to talk to John Szarkowski about Garry Winogrand’s multitudinous undeveloped rolls. He asked what I thought they should do with them, and I suggested leaving them undeveloped. My feeling was that if Garry had wanted them developed, he would have found a way to get that done. His profile was such that he could have managed that. Of course I was overuled and that’s ok. Now I understand that situation more clearly, but am still of that opinion.

On that visit to MOMA I met John in the hall of the photography department. He asked “Why aren’t you in our collection?” I answered “I don’t know, would you like me to send some prints for a look by the curators and acquisition commitee? Answer “Yes.” Several months later, they unanimously chose “Irish Dancehall, The Bronx 1954.” I was a very happy photographer.

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