Why I came to Israel

Hello friend,

I have decided to start this blog to share with you what I experience behind the scenes of photographing in Israel. I will use this post as an introduction to who I am and why I have decided to travel to Israel for six months. I am a 20 year old documentary photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am currently studying photography at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

I have been taking pictures for a little over a year now. I started working in West Baltimore on a project about the neighborhood, Sandton-Winchester. I began to enjoy the thrill of throwing myself into communities where I was an outsider. The camera became a way for me to make connections with people I otherwise would have never met. Taking pictures is a way for me to experience new cultures and immerse myself into the complicated world that we live in. You can find my work from Baltimore below.

After finishing about 6 months of shooting in Baltimore, I decided to travel abroad. Israel and Istanbul were the first countries I thought about studying in. I was inspired by the Israeli photographers, Barry Talis (@barrytalis) and Gabi Ben Avraham (@gabyba33). The energy that I could see through their photos drew me to the country and is why I am currently working here. After researching about the country, I did not hesitate to come. I stumbled across Larry Towell's work, "Then Palestine." The pictures he made show Palestine in a multifaceted way that I am interested in. Essentially, Magnum is my main source of inspiration right now. The work they produce is on par with my vision and what I would like to do with my life. You can enjoy the images from his book below. 

I want to make a meaningful documentary about Palestinian refugees. I never truly understood the Israel-Palestine conflict from an outsider’s perspective. It always seemed very complicated to me. After spending several weeks on two different Palestinian Refugee Camps, I have been directly exposed to the heart of the effects of the conflict. After my first overnight trip on Camp Aqabat Jaber in Jericho, I knew this was something that the world needed to see. 

The people here are extremely hospitable and never hesitate to invite you into their home to drink tea or have lunch. I play plenty of soccer in the street, ride on donkeys by the farm, and join in on celebration and dance when I get the chance. So far I have made plenty of friends in the camps that I have been visiting. They have been a great help with getting around and showing me how they live. Life here is different and not like anything I have ever seen before. The people live a simple lifestyle. It has been providing me with a lovely change of pace. 

I am very interested in the Palestinian way of life. They are building their very own, tight-knit community on this corner of the world. There is a story on these refugee camps that I believe needs to be told from a new perspective. A lot of the work that has been made about Palestine has been about war, but my goal is to uplift these communities with beautiful images of the vibrant life that exists there. This documentary is my passion right now and something that I will work very hard on. If you would like to see the work I have made in Palestine over the past two months, checkout the link below.

I hope you stay tuned as I am constantly uploading new images to Instagram and trying my best to produce video content for YouTube. You can follow me everywhere below: