Jeff Mermelstein’s street photographs capture the strangest occurrences that you could probably find in real life if you raised your head from the handpiece and take a close, hard look. Leica Camera Hong Kong invites you to Leica Store Hong Kong Causeway Bay and Leica Store Hong Kong (IFC) to view all of Jeff Mermelstein’s wonderful collection of street photography from New York City.
From now until the end of March, the exhibition includes much of Mermelstein’s incredible work, including the renowned “Sidewalk”, illustrating hilarious but disturbing colored street photography, made in New York City. It is also noteworthy that “Sidewalk” is one of the elements on the 5-storey façade outside of Leica Store Hong Kong Causeway Bay, where Leica wishes to pay tribute to the art and history of photography, with a touch of Hong Kong’s local community culture. 1 of the 4 unforgettably classic photos taken by Leica (which is also included in Leica’s 100 Years of Photography exhibition in 2017), “Sidewalk” embeds an important moment along Leica’s history, so you know the magnitude of his inspiration.
Jeff Mermelstein was born in 1957 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and studied at Rutgers College and the International Center of Photography. His career combines personal photographs with assignments for publications such as LIFE, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In the tradition of other photographers such as Helen Levitt, he has photographed street life in New York City extensively as well as September 11th and its aftermath. His works are held by institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House; and the New York Public Library. He has received the Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photographer’s Fellowship and the European Publishers Award for Photography. Mermelstein has taught at the International Center of Photography since 1988.
Merlmelstein has 3 rules that he lives by. One, intuition is more important than theme: “When shooting street photography, you do not need to deliberately set a theme for the shoot. You can opt to capture a certain moment as much as you want. When you look back at your own work after a while, you will find that connection. For me, photography is about play, pure instinct and intuition.” In addition, he suggests that good street photography images can make one feel the excitement and keenness from the other side of the lens, making people discover surprising stories from the bursting of the shutters. One of the keys to street photography: avoid unnecessary thinking and press the shutter instinctively. Do not hesitate, hesitation means missing the moment.
The second is to explore the crazy world within the ordinary: “I think it’s exciting to find surprises from the ordinary. I’m not the kind of photographer who needs to travel to take pictures.” Even in downtown New York, which is only an hour’s drive from his hometown, Mermelstein’s photographic perspective is always like taking the audience to Mars. Since the 1980s, he has been touring the streets of New York for more than 40 years. This “Martian Paradise City” will always be his photography playground.
Lastly, keep it interesting: “Only interesting people can take interesting images.” Aesthetics changes with times, but the quirky humor full of vitality has run through Jeff’s photography career of 40 years. This practice of repetition comes from the photographer’s unremitting observation and enthusiastic participation in the “present”. ⠀⠀⠀
Jeff Mermelstein’s Photography Exhibition in Hong Kong
Date: Until March 31, 2021
Time: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Leica Store Hong Kong Causeway Bay
Address: G/F, No.12 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: 2385 0118
Leica Store Hong Kong (IFC)
Address: Store 2026, Podium Level 2, IFC Mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2873 3230
Mermelstein is open to email interviews from interested Hong Kong publications.
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