My photography education began at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, from which I graduated in 1956. Some reasons for my gratitude to Brooks are in a statement I wrote in May 2007, in remembrance of one of my instructors:

I was very moved to learn of the death of Herb Boggie. My earliest remembrance of him goes back so many years to October 1954, when I began studying at Brooks Institute. I was an arrogant and hopeful 17-year-old from the Bronx, with a turbulent life which included a big love for photography. Mr. Boggie was teaching Basic Sensitometry and Elemental Photography. There were, as I recall, about 30 students in the class. It already says something about the man that he could minister to so many at such an exciting time in our lives. I remember gratefully how he represented the Brooks Institute Philosophy of "Learn by doing," particularly in relation to the basic filter lesson; which has stayed with me all these years. If a student's composition wasn't just right, Herb Boggie would say "Reshoot and reprint the assignment." He encouraged respect for exactitude, which is so necessary. I remember with fondness the way he labored over teaching me the Bellows Extension Formula, which I had trouble with. He even sent an older student to work with me, to make sure I would measure the bellows correctly and learn the formula. Half a century later, I can still compute the formula and I always think of him gratefully for this.

My experience at Brooks Institute enabled me, in 1961, to welcome and value this principle of Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by the poet and philosopher, Eli Siegel: "All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves." Studying Aesthetic Realism has enabled me to see the relation of art and life that all artists yearn for.

I learned the basis of art from Aesthetic Realism. It is this principle, and I quote Mr. Siegel directly: "The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."

     I want all photographers to experience the thrill of learning how such opposites as the immediate and the permanent, logic and emotion, simplicity and complexity are made one in a good photograph--and how we can learn from art to compose these opposites beautifully in our lives. 

     I had the honor to study in classes taught by Mr. Siegel, the most sensitive and knowledgable of scholars, and to be studying today in classes taught by Ellen Reiss, the Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education. 


Some Milestones in My Career

1. One-man exhibition, New York World's Fair, New York, Hall of Education, 1964.ARWHBT"The Bernstein Sight, made durable and tangible by a camera," in DEFINITION 19, A Journal of Events and Aesthetic Realism, published by Definition Press: NY. .

2. Aesthetic Realism: We Have Been ThereSix Artists on the Siegel Theory of Opposites (Definition Press: NY, 1969 - third printing, 1978), includes the chapter, "I Believe This About Photography" by David M. Bernstein. Review by Ralph Hattersley in Popular Photography, click here. Review in the Library Journal, click here. To order book, click here.

3. One-man exhibition, "The Lens Serves the Universe," Brooklyn College, 1974.

4. One-man exhibition, Sala de Cultura de la Caja de Ahorros de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, 1976, with accompanying catalogue/statement, "I Learned This About Photography." For review of exhibition, in Spanish, click here.

5. Macmillan Biographical Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists and Innovators by Turner Browne & Elaine Partnow (Macmillan: NY, 1983). For entry, click here.

6. Photographs published in Encyclopedia Britannica, Time. New York Times, Camera 35, Houghton-Mifflin texts, Scholastic Magazine, newspapers and magazines throughout the country from 1969 up to the present, including featured photograph in National Park Service brochure for the African Burial Ground Memorial in New York City, and in the permanent exhibition there, opened in February 2010.

7. International Center for Photography (ICP), Aesthetic Realism Photographers speak at ICP Open Forum, including David Bernstein, Nancy Starrels, and Louis Dienes, 1975.

8. Photography Instructor at New York Institute of Photography, Pratt-Phoenix School of Design, and Germain School of Photography, with work in permanent public collections including the Western States Museum of Art (Santa Barbara), Museum of the City of New York, and private collections nationwide.

9. Group exhibition, 3 Photographers at the Terrain Gallery - 1999, with Louis Dienes and Len Bernstein.

10. Group exhibition, Museum of the City of New York, "Horn & Hardart's Automat," 2002.

11. Exhibition and book, New York 400: A Visual History of America's Greatest City by John Thorn and Melanie Bower, with images from the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY, 2009).

12. Permanent Exhibition, African Burial Ground National Monument, February 2010.

13. Exhibition and book, Museum of the City of New York, "America's Mayor: John Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York," May 2010.


14. Group exhibition, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), "Life of the City," 2002.

15. "Bronzeville & Harlem: Photography & Justice" in Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism - Articles Published Nationwide (Orange Angle Press, NY: 2004).

16. Still photography appears in Ken Kimmelman's award-winning film "Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana," 2005. For film details, click here.

17. Videographer and director of photography for over 200 interviews with unsung heroes, "The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights," conducted by journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein, who I am happy to say is my wife. For details, click here.

18. The African Burial Ground National Monument, a National Park Service site in New York City at Broadway & Duane Street, includes "Alvin Ailey Dancers at Burial Ground Dedication Ceremony," a photograph by David M. Bernstein.

 Copyright 1999-2016 by David M. Bernstein