October 10, 2009

Photo of the Week: Oct. 8, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Like a few other photographers I know, I have a folder in my picture library named "body parts." It contains a variety of images featuring hands, feet, elbows and ears, but never faces or a full body. Over the years, this folder has become quite crowded as my eyes have been drawn to human activity that seems more poignant photographically when the part of the body performing the action is isolated or cut away from the rest of the person. There is something intriguing about looking at a picture with obvious human content, but no face, and trying to imagine whom is the person in the photo.

This shot of a man examining a lulav (palm frond) illustrates this perfectly. Mingling with shoppers in the Bukharan market in Jerusalem prior to Sukkot, I found a spot where bright sunlight was sneaking through a makeshift canvas roof built to provide shade. By a stroke of luck, the man holding the lulav turned into the light in order to examine it more closely. He was wearing a black coat and stood in the shadows near a dark wall, which created a beautiful interplay between light and shadow. Sometimes less is more, as when a picture draws us in and then leaves us pondering the rest of the story.

October 04, 2009

Photo of the Week: Oct. 1, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Sukkot is a holiday that has to be smelled. Or held. The visuals, though, are not bad either. I took this shot last year at the Kotel in Jerusalem during Sukkot. Everything was already in place as seen in the photo, including the soft, diffuse light found in the open shade of the Western Wall. The camera angle provides a less familiar study of the four species while lying on a prayer stand, as opposed to the much more common view of the lulav pointed upward while being waved. All of the four species are visible, including a second etrog, but what completes the composition is the prayer book. Above all, Sukkot is a holiday of faith - that G-d will protect us and sustain us throughout our fragile existence. The color and artistry with which Israelis fulfill the mitzvah of sukkah can be seen in a gallery on my new website. Click here to have a look. Chag Sameach.