Photographer In Focus: Bob Edelstein

Bob Edelstein is a New York, New York based Photographer

I have known Bob for many years. I first met Bob on our first trip to Cuba. We have subsequently had the opportunity to shoot in Cuba several more times, as well as in New York city. A few years ago, Bob and I started talking about Leica and we have kept the conversation going since.

Bob has an incredible portfolio of images based on his worldwide travels, he is the very definition of a Red Dot Blue Dot photographer.

I have learned so much from Bob, and am very proud to call him a friend.

Thank you Bob for taking time to share with RedDotBlueDot readers!

Five Foto Facts

First camera: Minolta SRT 101

Favorite camera: Leica MM 246

Photographer who has most inspired you: Vivian Maier

Favorite travel destination: Cuba

One place left on your travel bucket list: Iran

Photograph by: Bob Edelstein

Photograph by: Bob Edelstein

The Interview

RDBD: Tell me a little bit about yourself.  What do readers need to know about you to get to know you?  What is your personal, professional, and photography background?

B.E.: I was born and raised on Long Island NY and continue to spend time there, as well as, NYC. I am a baby boomer and am currently a partner in a CPA firm in NY. I was first introduced to photography when my older brother was in the US Army. He had purchased a Honeywell Spotmatic, a precursor to Pentax. That was in 1966 so I was eleven. I saved up some money to buy a Minolta SRT 101 with a 50MM lens. I was hooked and developed black and white film in my house. I wound up taking photography courses during undergraduate studies to fill all my elective credits. I have always been an avid photographer and still very much enjoy it. It’s a passion.

RDBD: What type of photography do you consider your primary genre and why? What does it mean to you?  How did you become focused on this area of photography?

B.E.: I believe I went the traditional route many photographers take. I started out with landscape photography for many, many years. I then progressed to portraiture and really enjoyed that genre. Currently, I am doing a lot of street photography. I am still somewhat inhibited while taking images of strangers but I am getting more comfortable over time. Street photography to me is the holy grail of skills. Quick, concise, move on. I love it when a scene is crowded with elements, the viewer has to take time with to digest what is going on. Additionally, and I do believe this is the critical factor for me, the interactions with strangers is what gives me the most joy. When I review those images it takes me right to that interaction. At that moment the stranger and I connected.

RDBD: What motivates you as a photographer?  Specifically, why is photography important in your life?  When you are tired of shooting, what gets you out the door anyway?

B.E.: I tend to be a “lazy” photographer. I hate tripods. I hate waiting for the sun to rise or set. I like to shoot images of people in their daily routine or on a crowded street. Photography opens my eyes to everything I see. I do not know how I would “see” were it not for photography. I seldom get tired of shooting especially in a highly populated area like India, for example.

RDBD: Please tell me why you chose the image to submit as your one image.  What meaning does the image have to you?

B.E.: I chose this image taken in Santa Clara, Cuba for its grit. That grit reminds me of the determination, under extreme conditions, of the Cuban population. I have warm feelings for the Cuban people and I hope their lives will soon improve. I had a conversation with this woman and she was warm and even offered me something to eat.

RDBD: In an era where everyone has a smartphone and selfies and micro-blogging daily activities are quickly becoming the norm, why does traditional photography still matter? 

B.E.: To me there is nothing more satisfying than a visually pleasing photograph. Smartphones are improving every day. People still like to look at large photography books. I have made several books and, for me, each image takes me back to that moment I pressed the shutter. Traditional photography matters as it slows down the world and allows you to take a moment to appreciate beauty.

RDBD: What is one thing you think I should ask, but haven’t…and what is your answer?

B.E.: Since I was limited to one favorite travel destination I would like to add others. I was in Myanmar in 2011 and found that country to be most fascinating. It really is a step back in time, like Cuba. Additionally, India is great for street photography. The people are open to be photographed and are extremely warm. Also, to elaborate on my bucket list destination Iran, I am enthralled with the dichotomy of cultures there, both modern and ancient.

RDBD: That is the very essence of a “RedDotBlueDot” photographer, Bob. Your list of desired travel destinations is never a short list!

RDBD: What photographer would you like to see answer these questions and recommend RDBD contact to be featured?  
Figueredo Véliz and Bob Chiu

Contact Bob Edelstein:

Instagram: @bobbbee55

Facebook: Bob Edelstein