The Fein Story Behind the Pictures
A Revealing Look at the Famous Images of Pulitzer Prize Photographer Nat Fein
by David Nieves

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Customer Book Reviews

By Grady Harp
Los Angeles, CA
Top Ten Amazon Reviewer

David Nieves has provided us with a worthy tribute to one of our most important photographic journalists - Nat Fein. Not only does Nieves provide a warm and astute introduction to this collection of the many superb photographs of Nat Fein, but he also has through his personal friendship with the famed photographer (who won the Pulitzer Prize for this unforgettable image of 'The Babe [Ruth] Bows Out') gathered the estate collection of Fein's works and here presents that collection along with comments gleaned form conversations with the photographer before his death. The result is a tender homage while still retaining the infectious w=humor Fein always found in his 'works'.

Fein apparently carried with him 'props' he could utilize when he had an assignment from the New York Herald Tribune - elements that he would offer the subject that would result in spontaneity and human warmth to the final photograph. In this collection Nieves has included Fein's portraits of such famous people as Albert Schweitzer, Nelson and Happy Rockefeller, Albert Einstein, the Queen Mum, Mickey Mantle, a never before published view of Jackie Kennedy, and Harry Truman - each with a brief byline of the events of the act of taking the photograph - as well as Fein's views of New York City during heat, blizzard, snow and rain and the people of that great city captured in moments both hilarious and touching. His affinity for ordinary people made extraordinary by his camera and eye remain visual icons of American history.

David Nieves adds greatly to this portfolio by including much of the history of the life of Nat Fein as well as exploring aspects of the past that Fein documented with telling detail: the famous story of the 1942 'Langley Collyer Scoop' is the stuff of which novels can be written, and his extended background and documentation of the last days of Babe Ruth are only two examples of why this book is so important to the collector of photographic art as well as to those who remain fascinated with the historic events of the past century as seen through the eyes of a camera held by a man with a heart. This is a superb book that should find the popularity of The Family of Man as a reminder of our past and a memento to treasure.

Grady Harp

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer
MidWest Book Review
Oregon, WI

Growing-up in the area that the famous photographer, Nat Fein, worked in drew me to review this outstanding book by author, David Nieves. For those of you who do not know, Nat Fein, let me give you a little background on the man. Nat Fein was born in New York City in 1914. He had a talent for music, but his love was photography. Through a turn of events he secured a job for the New York Herald. His photos were not the norm, but with each one that he took he truly put thought and heart into, often using props to enhance the moment.  Very ingenious. He was truly a man with exceptional talent and one who gave much to our world by way of photos.

As I turned the pages of this intriguing book I was truly lost in the images before me. Some locals were familiar  which only drew me more into the viewing. However, knowing the locals or not, each photo was unique and seemed to tell an entire story without a word. I viewed them over and over again before I even read the  accompanying writing. Page upon page I was spellbound as I feasted upon photo after photo of animals, events, people, that told many stories of the past without a word. Photos of the famous are among the midst, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and her dog, Fala, Jackie Kennedy, and the famous Babe Ruth, a photo you will not soon forget. Wonderful! My favorites however, were all the animal photos that were included. I absolutely loved them.    I was particularly impressed with the photos of the sleeping elephants, and in some photos of elephants I could actually see the sadness and weariness in their eyes. It took my breath away at the capturing of the very soul of those animals that, Nat Fein, achieved. Wonderful job! Top all of this off with interesting stories of the man behind the photos, stories of making of a great photo, stories of the people or animals, and photos of events and people important to our history, and you come up with a book that every American should have in their home.
A true keep-sake of times, events, animals and people passed, yet not forgotten. A beautiful book, honoring, Nat Fein, and his photos that are a part of our heritage, a reminder of where we have been, and perhaps a smile at how far we have traveled. A book that will be treasured from generation to generation. Definitely a must have, a work that will be enjoyed over and over again,  and I am proud to give it my highest recommendation.
Shirley Johnson


By Mira Awad
McLean, VA
Top 100 Amazon Reviewer

"The Fein Story Behind the Pictures" features 118 black-and-white images taken in New York City by press photographer Nat Fein in the 1940s and 1950s, accompanied by the stories behind the photos as Nat Fein told them to his friend David Nieves many years later. Mr. Nieves was so affected as a boy by Fein's Pulitzer Prize-winning photo "The Babe Bows Out", taken of Babe Ruth's final appearance at Yankee Stadium 2 months before his death in 1948, that he searched for decades for a print of the image. That search led eventually to Nat Fein, and David Nieves became curator of The Nat Fein Collection following the photographer's death in 2000.

"The Fein Story Behind the Pictures" begins with a brief but colorful biography of Fein, who acquired a Speed Graphic camera and became a press photographer for "The New York Herald Tribune" in his late teens. The photographs are a mixture of street scenes, people pictures, and celebrity photos. As was common among photojournalists of his day, Fein staged many photographs, often using his own props and whatever people were at hand. He had a uncommon eye for the endearing and offbeat, especially when it came to children and animals.

There are award-winning photos, wintry scenes, and famous people, including US presidents, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, and sports heroes. But most are human interest photos, at which Fein excelled. Some of the more mundane photos have the most interesting stories behind them, so there is a nice mix of memorable images and oral history. I'm a fan of press photography of the 1920s-1950s, and tabloid (crime) photography is what first comes to my mind when I think of that era. Nat Fein's photos are the flip side of that, showing a brighter, funny side of human nature. This is a nice collection for anyone who admires the photojournalism of the early 20th century. Prints of individual photos are available through The Nat Fein Collection's web site.

Mira Awad

By Frank LoBuono
Haverstraw, NY
Film Documentary Producer

I had the privilege of knowing Nat Fein both professionally and personally. I met him professionally as a journalist working for the local cable television station. And, as the book points out so well, almost anyone who knew him professionally had the good fortune to know him personally too. At least a little bit anyway! He was warm, witty, and intelligent, just like this book.

My wife and I are producing a documentary on Mr. Fein called "A Talent for Living: The Nat Fein Story". Through our research and production, we have learned about a ground breaking, award winning photojournalist who never met a assignment he didn't like! Nat's approach to life is clearly reflected in his photographs. What "The Fein Story Behind the Pictures" does so well is tell the remarkable back stories behind each one of his incredible photographs. Mr. Nieves details how the story behind Nat's making of the legendary Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Babe Ruth is as rich and entertaining as the photograph itself.

Nat always said he "made" a photograph. Never that he "took" a photograph. One of Nat's good friends once said, "who thinks of putting a kangaroo in a subway? But Nat did"! This book helps to explain how AND why these photos were made. It's also a beautiful book. Nieves' combines Fein's spectacular photography with the charming and witty stories behind how each was indeed "made" by Mr. Fein.

It's a must read for any student of photojournalism and anyone else interested in great photography with a true sense of humor.

Frank LoBuono

By Gail Cooke
Dallas, Texas
Top Ten Amazon Reviewer

Yes, "A picture is worth a thousand words" is clichéd but it is also applicable to the stunning photographs of Pulitzer Prize winner Nat Fein. However, in this case it would take more than a thousand words to capture images as brilliantly as Fein's lens. His photos reveal not only the perfection of an accomplished photographer but his remarkable ability to recognize and save a precise moment, an expression or an event.

While many of Fein's subjects are indeed famous (Babe Ruth, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc), the unknown subjects are equally arresting - window washers silhouetted against the New York skyline, children frolicking in water spraying from the nozzle of a fire hydrant. Fein's eye was apparently infallible when it came not only to catching the perfect shot but in preserving what would speak to us over time.

Compiled by David Nieves, curator and executor of the Nat Fein estate, this collection of 118 photographs of old New York is apt tribute to a master photographer..

Gail Cooke


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