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2017 GANYC Apple Awards Nominee: Paul Kessel


Each year, GANYC proudly honors organizations and individuals that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation, while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides. The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards is coming up, on Monday, March 6, 2017. This year there are 44 nominees. Below, is an interview with one of them.

Nomination: Paul Kessel, Coney Island 10, Outstanding Achievement in New York City Photography (singular image, published October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016)

New York-native Paul Kessel had another career spanning over 30 years as a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and university professor. After taking a photography class in 2008, he began his more recent journey in the world of street photography. Another one of his photos, “Looking at Self, Times Square” (True Believers) was nominated for the 2016 GANYC Apple Awards for Outstanding Achievement in NYC Photography. There’s no place like home, and Paul is certainly right at home here in New York.

What is the main source of inspiration for your photography?

My daughter. She began a career in photography after graduating college (She is now a prop stylist). I am always trying to get a photograph that she may like. In addition, I am inspired by the great street photographers of the past and present. Internally, I am inspired by the relatively small possibility of getting an exceptional picture.

Please describe, briefly, what your process is like for creating your work?

I am out searching for pictures on the street as often as possible. I treat photography like a sport, aware that performance fluctuates depending on many factors. Some days, I get nothing worthwhile. Other days, I may save one or two pictures from 50-100 shots. I process them on the computer in Adobe Lightroom and print the better pictures at home.

What’s been a highlight of your work or a particular event or happenstance that has kept you motivated to continue doing it?

Anytime I get a significantly good picture, it keeps me going. I suppose one highlight has been an article about my work (a particular project) in Popular Photography Magazine. Another highlight was winning a national competition. I often feel that I cannot take any decent pictures, but the occasional success or accomplishment pushes me forward.

For our professional GANYC tour guide members, what things about your work might we share with the thousands of visitors to NYC we meet every year?

As a street photographer, I am out "touring" alone almost every day. The vast majority of my pictures were made in Manhattan. I also go to Williamsburg and Coney Island in Brooklyn a lot.  My self-published books on Williamsburg, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, and the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, among other books, hopefully show what these places are like (with the emphasis on people and not the place, per se.) All books can be viewed on my website.

Favorite tour you've taken in NYC, or if you haven't taken a tour, where in NYC would you next like to have a tour (preferably led by one of our GANYC members)?

I think the only tour I have been on is the Circle Line (boat tour). I was very impressed by the knowledge as well as the style of presentation by the guide.

What is your favorite place in NYC and why?

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My daughter lives there and wherever she lives, feels like home to me.  

If you could be any one of the five NYC boroughs or a particular store/restaurant in NYC, what would you be and why?

In spite of Williamsburg feeling like home because of my daughter living there, I may choose Manhattan because I have lived there most of my life. I would not be a store or restaurant. I would be Central Park - in my opinion, the best part of NYC.

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GANYC is an association of independent tour guides. Each member is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. GANYC provides a listing of all member guides to the public. GANYC is not liable, or responsible, for contractual obligations made between clients and tour guides. GANYC stands for Guides Association Of New York City.
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