In memoriam- Lou Bernstein

Posted by George on October 4th, 2007 in Uncategorized

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


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