Ed with his dog Thomas, Photo Credit: Ed Eckstein
Ed Eckstein started his career in the sixties, documenting the social upheavals of the era. He continues to photograph on a world wide basis for a number of clients in the editorial, corporate and advertising sectors. He calls his brand of imagery ‘non-fiction photography’, images unmanipulated and distilled from visual encounters with humanity and place.
“Every day a dizzying array of digital images fills our eyes and then quickly fades from memory. With rare resonance, Ed Eckstein’s film-based, black and white photography lingers in the mind. His images illuminate a remarkable range of socially relevant subjects and strange situations.
Photo Credit: Ed Eckstein
When asked how he captures so many amazing moments, Eckstein cleverly credits his “creative loitering.” Actually, his is a deeply intuitive, active state of waiting. He never randomly picks the low-hanging fruit. Rather, Eckstein instinctively tunes into a chosen area until humorous, poignant or highly improbable points of intersections occur. He masterfully captures the ever-shifting aggregate of objects at the most charged moments. What emerge from these photographs are extraordinary narratives that possess uncommon depth and subtlety.
Sometimes unconventional pictures emerge from fortuitous shots captured during routine assignments. Once he was hired to shoot the interior of a plane at JFK airport. During the course of this job he came across a horse (in a crate on the tarmac) waiting to be loaded. The photograph is striking and quietly comical; typical of the offbeat humor this unassuming man brilliantly captures.
He dryly refers to his art as “non-fiction photography.” This direct, immediate style of image formation remains Eckstein’s fertile focus. Subjecting the work to an infinite index of mutations in Photoshop exerts no appeal. His methodology, while clearly old school, remains fresh and trend-free yet refreshingly contemporary. His art is aging well, even growing more vibrant as time passes.
Eckstein was drawn in to the world of art at a young age. He shared, “Someone gave me a little Brownie camera when I was 12 years old and that was it. I was hooked right away. I never had a Plan B. It is really a calling for me.”
His love of art led him to Philadelphia College of Art. During this time he landed assignments as a stringer for The New York Times. Concurrently, many religious organizations had magazines based in the city. Their interest and commitment to social issues was a great opportunity for Eckstein to develop his photojournalistic style. He received several intriguing assignments such as flying to West Africa to live with missionaries and another exploring the life of Native Americans on reservations. Some of his most laudable creations resulted from covering the unprecedented social upheaval during the ‘60s and ‘70s. This extraordinarily evocative body of work is compiled in the book, The Coming of Rage.
Eckstein is currently compiling work for a forthcoming book, Rez, White and Blue. These moody, insightful photographs were culled from visits to nine Native American reservations taken from the ‘70s through the ‘90s. I also highly recommend obtaining his book entitled Bricks and Mortals. These pictures were the result of a grant he received from the Michener Art Museum.
He resided at the Doylestown Hospital for an entire summer, documenting the happenings. Some of these groundbreaking images open up the relational aspects of caretakers and patients, while other look like missing stills from the X-Files. Check these books out.”