Harold Feinstein was born in Coney Island, New York, USA in 1931. He began his career in photography in 1946 at the age of 15 and within four short years, Edward Steichen, an early supporter, had purchased his work for the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He joined the Photo League at 17 and became a prominent figure in the vanguard of the early New York City street photography scene where he exhibited at Helen Gee’s Limelight Gallery. He was one of the original inhabitants of the legendary “Jazz Loft” which he later turned over to his long-time collaborator and colleague W. Eugene Smith for whom he designed the original lay-out of the famous Pittsburgh Project. Feinstein had his first exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1954 and his first exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957. He is best known for his six-decade engagement with Coney Island, which has resulted in a collection unsurpassed by any other photographer.
While his Coney Island work has been much celebrated, Feinstein’s breadth and exposure extend outside of the island. His photographs from the Korean War, taken from the perspective of a draftee, offer an intimate look at the daily life of young conscripts from induction, to basic training, to the front lines. In addition, he has a large collection of classic street photography, nudes, portraits and still life.
Feinstein’s photographs have been exhibited in and are represented in the permanent collections of major museums around the globe including the Museum of Modern Art, International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, Museum of Photographic Arts, Center for Creative Photography, Musée d’Art Moderne, the Jewish Museum, and the Museum of the City of New York. His portfolios, photo essays, and articles have been published in major periodicals including, LIFE, Aperture, Black and White, Camera Arts, The New York Times Magazine, American Photo, Oprah Magazine, Evergreen Review, Photography Annual, Modern Photography andPopular Photography. In 2011 at the age of 80, he was given The Living Legend Award by the Griffin Museum of Photography.