Bill Bernstein is a portrait photographer internationally celebrated for his iconic images of the late 1970's New York City nightlife scene and 15 years touring at Paul McCartney’s side as his personal photographer.
Since beginning his career at the Village Voice in the 1970s, he has refined his methodology of researching and representing contemporary cultures through photography. The depth and breadth of decades of his collected imagery eclipse the realm of representative portraiture; the story Bernstein’s work tells is one of visual cultural anthropology and a celebration of cultural diversity.
Beyond composition, Bernstein considers his subjects’ totality—their experiences, histories, and environments; he first gains, then grants his viewers access to diverse 21st century “tribes.” What he offers are very real moments in the lives and thoughts of his subjects. Whether he is photographing the rockstars of U2, business titan Richard Branson, or the homeless of Bowery Mission, a Bill Bernstein image is an unguarded image that cuts through public persona. Consistently, Bernstein can be called upon to deliver the full weight of his subjects’ personalities and render celebrities and civilians accessible to viewers via the immediacy of the moment.
Bernstein services an international advertising and editorial clientele including National Geographic TV, Time Magazine, Elle, New York Philharmonic, Warner Brothers, and HBO. He is also the author of three books: Night Dancin’ (Ballantine Books, 1980), Each One Believing: Paul McCartney On Stage, Off Stage, and Backstage (Chronicle Books, 2004), and DISCO: The Bill Bernstein Photographs (Reel Art Press, 2015).
His work is currently being exhibited globally, including, most recently, in the stand-alone exhibition, “Night Fever: New York Disco 1977-1979,” at Manhattan's Museum of Sex, The Galerie fuer Moderne Fotografie (Berlin), The David Hill Gallery (London), as well as an upcoming exhibit at Philharmonie de Paris in May, 2019.
He lives and works in New York City, his hometown.
Photo © James Roderick