About Josef

1942 – 2016

I first met my grandfather when I was eight years old. It was during a family trip to Ellis Island when I found the name “Reinhart” carved into a stone wall. Josef was born on December 16,1903 and grew up in Tauberbischofsheim. Due to lack of work in his hometown, he decided to move to the United States. He started working as a waiter on an ocean liner and immigrated to New York in 1923. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million people went through immigration procedures on Ellis Island. One of them was Josef Reinhart.

Most of the places he had seen, visited or worked at in New York are now gone, but Ellis Island remains as a remnant of his personal history and has always fascinated me since that first encounter at the age of eight.

In 1932, Josef moved back to Germany, took over his father’s restaurant, started a family and had four children with his wife Mina. A couple of years before, while still in New York, he bought a camera, the first Rolleiflex, which has been in our family posession ever since.

My grandfather died in 1981, ten years before I was born. In 2015, I went back to Ellis Island with his Rolleiflex to work on this project. I never met Josef. But somehow, whether it is his through his pictures or through the mechanics of his camera, I feel that I know him quite well.

Silver gelatin prints, 2013 – 2016. Nicolas Reinhart
6×6 vintage prints, 1942 – 1957. Josef Reinhart
Shot on Nikon FA and Original Standard Rolleiflex.