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The Highlands Currant

online version of the article can be read here: 


Garage Gallery, Solo Show Press Release & Website Listing

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UP Collective Interview

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I began photography late in life. One day with little forethought, I wandered into the International Center of Photography in New York City and registered for the most basic photography course for beginners. I would turn 70 years old in a month and had been at a loss about how to spend my time after I stopped working as a psychologist and professor, coupled with my daughter now having her own apartment and no longer living with me. I had always owned a camera but, except for a few brief spurts of interest, rarely pursued photography. It never occurred to me that I would continue after this first course, but I never missed a semester of taking anywhere from one to three courses for the next ten years. The reason why I was so drawn to photography is multifaceted. When I first viewed a photo I took on a computer, I was amazed and excited about how the camera saw so much that was out of my awareness. It was a reflection, and I had never viewed a photo of a reflection before.  My daughter was pursuing a career in photography, and that was another reason that spurred me on. Additionally, I suppose that there was always a latent interest.

After a few years focusing on portraits, I discovered street photography, and I almost immediately realized that it was a perfect fit for me. As a child and all the way up to my early 20’s, I was very shy. I spent a lot of time wandering the streets alone observing people. In a sense, I had begun street photography early in life, but without a camera. Once I began street photography about twelve years ago, I was totally hooked and have a constant urge to go out as much as possible to pursue it. A truly good street photograph is rare, and the constant pursuit to achieve one is addictive. Street photography is mostly about failure, and the possibility of a worthwhile photograph in the context of primarily failure is a recipe for addiction. Now at almost age 86, I have slowed down but there is never a time when I go out without a camera.



I have lived in New York City most of my life and almost all of my photographs were made there. During the CoVid-19 pandemic, a period of staying home was followed by a temporary move out of the city to a rural area. I like to tell myself that pictures emerge everywhere, and that location is not that important. However, without a busy city, my desire dissipates. I seem to need people to photograph. I consider that a shortcoming, but I accept that it is my need. Theoretically, I profess to believe that one can photograph anywhere at any time. Some street photographers are more conceptual and can make a photograph out of practically nothing. Others, like myself, require something outside of their head, to react to and take a picture. It is always a mixture of concepts and more intuitive immediate reactions with different photographers working more with one or the other.


In New York City, I photograph in the usual haunts of street photographers. Until the pandemic, I photographed in Frankfurt, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark almost every year as well as Miami and San Francisco when I attended street photography festivals.

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The short answer to “when” is “all the time”. I spend most of my waking hours (as well as frequent dreams) with street photography. Parenthetically, almost all my photography dreams are a variation of seeing unbelievably good scenes to shoot but the shutter will not engage. Please don’t bother interpreting this.

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I will repeat what I said in a previous interview. In Ernest Hemingway’s short novel, “The Old Man and The Sea”, the old man says: “My big fish must be somewhere” and “It is silly not to hope”. I feel like the old man and the street. I am pulled along by the hope of finding my big picture. On a subway in 2019, I caught my “big fish”. The photo, “Q Train” has won many awards, much praise and criticism as well. It won events that I never dreamed of participating in, let alone, win. I suppose that I am sort of a “one-shot wonder”. I do have more photos and series that are good and others have liked, but none are in the same league.

Q Train Paul Kessel

When I began street photography, I initially did street portraits with consent. I moved on to candid portraits and then candid street scenes. My goal now is a layered street scene with multiple elements and activities going on. I almost never achieve it but again, the quest keeps me going. I seem to be after complex busy photos that fill the frame. It occurs to me that there is some history to this. I have had no art education at all and have almost never been exposed to art (family dynamics explain this). However, I arranged to have two posters of paintings hanging in my room as a child. One by Bosch and the other by Dali. Both were complex and full of stuff throughout the frame. I have a hunch that this informs my photographic preferences.

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It seems that for me, whenever I pursue something, I become totally involved and I am satisfied to do only that one thing. That is so with making candid photographs in public places. I do it because I have reached the point in life where that is what I do. The alluring goal of finding or making better pictures is all consuming. It is a sport that I play all the time. I long for those rare times that I get “in the zone” where I easily see potential pictures and get them, undistracted by worry and other matters. I am aware that this activity is one of an almost perpetual “slump” because achieving an exceptional picture is so rare. On a day that I do achieve what for me, is a good picture, I love the feeling.

External factors pull me along also. Being accepted into a meaningful exhibition and being accepted by competent photographers, as a viable player are significant motivating factors. It is only recently that I have become aware of the most important reason I photograph. Since I began in 2008, I have accumulated friends and relationships that mean much more than any photograph or success in a contest. Although perhaps I have gone as far as I can go with photography, the friendships continue.

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To read the interview online, please visit:

Weser-Kurier, Germany, March 1, 2023


Weser-Report, Germany, February 26, 2023


MIX, Germany, March 2023


Bremer, Germany, March 2023

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The Cyprus Photographic Society – Pafos Branch organizes the contest The Wall 2022 aiming to exhibit large pictures in an outdoor public space for an extended period of time. Through photographers’ contribution both in Cyprus and abroad, a wall in the city centre will be covered with 30 colour photos. The event is part of the programme of events of the Months of Photography Paphos (MoPP2022) photo festival. This is the 7th edition of the event.

The photo installation will remain in place for 11 months and it is expected to be visited by more than 50 000 people.

International Jury Committee

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To see all photographs featured and the original article, please visit: 

By invitation, Dodho Magazine, 2022

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New York City is considered as one of the best places to practice street photography. It has a history of being the breeding grounds of many of the finest street photographers over the years.

If one is proficient with the fundamentals of photography and puts in the time, interesting photographs will emerge. Individual talent and style mean a lot but in addition to this, persistence and patience are necessary. The more one is out with a camera, the greater number of lucky circumstances will happen and result in a few photos worth keeping. The project, “Street Scenes” represents an effort to cull out some of the better photos.

About Paul Kessel

After a career in clinical psychology and university teaching, Paul Kessel began photography late in life (one month shy of his 70th Birthday). On a whim, he enrolled in an introductory class at The International Center of Photography in 2007. He continued taking classes there every semester for ten years. About twelve years ago he discovered street photography and became immersed in it. He never goes out without a camera. 

He has been in about 140 group exhibitions. Additionally, he has had 4 solo shows in New York Galleries. Kessel has been a finalist in many street photography festivals worldwide. He has been the winner of a few of them. Perhaps his most prestigious award is winning the Miami Street Photography Festival (2020). 

His photographs have been reproduced in a few books and he has self-published eighteen books. The books represent the culmination of various projects. Kessel has been featured in a full-length documentary film (“Fill the Frame”) and has been interviewed a number of times by various photography organizations including “Street Photography”.

Before he began the serious pursuit of photography in 2007, Kessel always owned a camera since about age twelve. However, it was usually kept in a drawer and rarely used. There were brief spurts of photographing, but it was never sustained. A latent interest was always present. He dabbled in street photography for a few weeks in the 1960’s (He was unaware it was called “street photography”). There are old photos of the original Woman’s March and even one of Gloria Steinem.

A good part of Kessel’s education in photography involved portrait photography. This included studio photography, flash photography, and self-portraits. His early work in street photography was primarily street portraits with permission. This evolved into candid street portraits, and later street scenes beyond focusing on one individual. He favors more complex scenes with layers and multiple people interacting. Such photos are more difficult to achieve but every now and then such a photo emerges. It is the quest and elusiveness of a truly good photograph with some complexity that keeps Kessel shooting even in his mid 80s. 

To view the online story: