October 26, 2012

Photo of the Week: Sept. 25, 2012

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Longtime readers of this column will be familiar with my approach to photography, which synthesizes technique with keen vision, the latter skill being both more difficult to develop and more important. In a previous column, I noted four keys to my success when hunting for new images: my boots, which allow me to trek to just the right position, my eyes, and large doses of patience and motivation. An unpleasant incident at an event earlier this year prompted me to add another ingredient to this list: humility. 
 As I waited to shoot the beginning of a speech in my usual position about 10 feet from the podium, the speaker yelled at me, in front of 150 guests, to get out of the way. Having photographed speakers hundreds of times, I was surprised at both the request and the harsh tone with which it was issued. I walked away, momentarily contemplated walking out the door (the speaker was also my client), but instead drew in a deep breath and centered myself. 
Someone once asked me how working under pressure affects the creative process. (To read the entire answer, click here).  http://asimplejew.blogspot.co.il/2008/02/question-answer-with-yehoshua-halevi.html. Pressure or any kind of emotional blockage, no matter what its source, impedes my ability to see and connect to what is unfolding in front of me. Rather than walk off the job, I recognized that only humility would allow me to continue, to keep the creative doors open and allow me to roam the party and engage with the guests and their celebration.

Humility. It is a salve against anger, frustration, disappointment and anything that blocks our ability to connect inward. It certainly helps temper our personal relationships and likewise, with the creative process, whether photographing people or the natural world, being humble opens the gate to sources of creative inspiration and clarity of vision. This may seem a rather odd commentary on trying to master a skill such as photography, but I think it has tremendous merit and, in retrospect, realize my work has often benefitted from humility.  
This week’s photo features one the seven gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sha’ar Harachamim, The Gate of Mercy. Located along the eastern wall of the old city, the only difficulty in getting this shot was my concern about wandering into a neighborhood that it might be advisable to avoid. Shielded by broad daylight and my faith, I made the 20-minute walk from the Kotel safely there and back. There are numerous Arab graves surrounding the gate, which has been sealed since 1541, and unsightly wires strung from the ramparts, but I included them in the photo because, well, that’s what it looks like today. Interestingly, on Yom Kippur, we conclude the day with the Neilah service, which has become a metaphor for the closing of the Gates of Mercy (Neilah means locking). It is our last chance to be heard, forgiven by God and sealed for a year of blessing. In this season of soul searching, may we remain humble, slow to judgment and open to receiving and appreciating the blessings in our lives.  
TECHNICAL DATA: Camera: Nikon D700, handheld, manual exposure, center-weighted metering mode, f18 at 1/500th sec., ISO 400. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 28-105mm macro zoom at 28mm. Date: June 20, 2012, 6:50 a.m. Location: The Old City of Jerusalem.

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