“The decisive moment of my life,” writes Len Bernstein, “was meeting the noted photographer Lou Bernstein, a member of the Photo League who later studied with Eli Siegel, the esteemed American poet, critic, and founder of Aesthetic Realism. It was Lou who introduced me to this great philosophy, and for that alone he has my eternal gratitude. But he also taught me to have more courage and honesty photographing on the street; never to hide behind the camera; always to use it to have more feeling for people and the world they represent.
“My book, Photography, Life, and the Opposites, with a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Robert Coles, was a labor of love in which I tried to present the essence of what I have learned and loved for over four decades studying this foundation principle of Aesthetic Realism: ‘All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.’ Through the opposites every subject, including the art and technique of photography, is a means of seeing how the world, and the people and things in it, have meaning we can respect, honestly like!”
Mr. Bernstein’s images are in many private and museum collections, as well as the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, and Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. He has lectured and conducted workshops here in the US and abroad, including the University of Northampton, England and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada. He has taught students from kindergarten through college, most recently a course on photojournalism and ethics to high school students under a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
In addition to the life and work of Jacob Riis and Edward Weston, he has lectured on other photographers important in the history of the medium, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Gordon Parks, W. Eugene Smith, Alfred Stieglitz, and Ansel Adams.
Len Bernstein had the honor of studying directly with Eli Siegel. Residing in New York City with his wife and editor Harriet, they are having the time of their lives continuing their study in professional classes taught by Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.