Israeli photographer based in, Jerusalem, Israel, Portrait & Street: Yaakov Israel
1)What Photobooks are you currently looking at?
The last few weeks I’ve been looking at:
Robert Adams –‘The Place We Live’ (3 Volumes),
Ferit Kuyas – ‘Aurora’
Kate Nolan - Neither
Nicoló Degiorgis - Hidden Islam
Alejandro Cartagena - Carpoolers
Eamonn Doyle - I
This could probably be my list of best photography books that landed on my shelves in 2014.
2) What was the last truly inspiring Photobook you saw?
3) Give us the name of your favorite overlooked or underappreciated Photographer?
Well I always had the feeling that Henry Wessel, who was included in "New Topographics" show at the George Eastman House (1975), has been a bit overlooked. I found him to be one of the most interesting photographers at that show, but somehow I have the feeling that he never quite broke through the recognition barrier and that he is less known in comparison to some of the others that were included in that show. I am always surprised when even photographers don’t know whom I am referring to when I mention him (but this of course could be only my interpretation, based on my personal experience and interaction).
4) What are your photographic guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre/style?
I know this answer will disappoint you, but sorry I really do not have any guilty pleasures in this realm. I understood a long time ago that I enjoy many genres of photography and I do this with no guilt attached.
5) If we came to your studio what would we see?
Well, basically you would encounter a huge mess… books everywhere and all my negative folders are spread out and placed open and half open everywhere and anywhere… I’m in the process of editing for my upcoming second book and while organizing this project I somehow found myself simultaneously reorganizing my archive project by project and with every project trying to rearrange chronologically by years… this started four months ago and I am still at it with no end in sight.
6) What’s the best Photobook on (Your nationality) Photography you’ve ever read?
One of my favorites would certainly be ‘The Civil Contract of Photography’ by Ariella Azoulay. I find a lot of Ariella Azoulay’s writings thought evoking, she make me think about the many ways photography functions, creates and influences reality.
7) What subject other than photography, are you interested in? That nevertheless informs your work?
I am very interested in literature, geography and mapping.
My journey into the art world was instigated by a strong wish to tell a story, as a lifelong reader and son of a writer I naturally first tried my hand at writing, after some efforts I came to the understanding that I wasn’t as good as I’d like to be, after some time I found my way into the visual medium, but with the connection and influences of the literary world, which are very influential and dominant in my work.
Geography and mapping were also interests that followed me into this world of photography from boyhood, of course these interests have evolved massively as photography lead me into deeper investigations and understandings.
8) What was the last Photobook that made you happy?
I’m truly enjoying all the books on the list I stated above, but I’d like to single out ‘The American’s List’ conceived and compiled by Jason Eskenazi – This book conveys so much of the identities, influences and passion of so many of the photographers of our time and in context of Robert Frank’s book - “The Americans”, one of the millstones in the history of the medium. This is a book I find myself leafing through every now and again, enjoying the stories of each individual photographer. Doing this always makes me think of how much passion each of them has to the medium and how much passion Jason must have had in order to see this project through.
9) What was the last Photobook that made you sad?
I do my best not to buy ones that don’t interest me, so I don’t really reach the stage of being sad over a book. Lately I find I’m more interested in books that were conceived around an idea or narrative and that I’m less interested in catalogs, but there are exceptions.
10) What kind of person were you as a child? And what were your favorite childhood memories, which made you a photographer? how have you grown over the years what has changed what remained the same ?
As a kid I was constantly roaming the hillsides around the neighborhood in which I grew up, which was a regular working class neighborhood on the outskirts of southwest Jerusalem. Running around with friends exploring our surroundings, which consisted mainly of the abandoned Arab houses and caves on the slopes of Ein Kerem. I hated being cooped up inside and was out the door first thing after school, running about on adventures till well after dark. The urge to go out into the world is still a strong part of who I am and photography has become the excuse to go out for days on end and just explore and experience the world, not knowing who I may meet and hoping for an adventure.
11) Whom do you consider your Photographic Masters? Do you believe in mastery?
My constant influences would be August Sander and Eugène Atget, their work never seams to tier me. However there were really so many amazing photographers that influenced me and my work over the years, too many to state each by name, not to mention contemporaries whose work I just love and who I am sure are challenging and pushing me forward intellectually and visually.
12) Which Photographers have had the most impact on you as a Photographer? Is there a particular Photo that made you want to be a Photographer? Please upload an image to justify your statement ?
When I started out and decided I wanted to be a photographer I wasn’t particularly excited by any singular image or photographer, but more by the idea of recording reality. Over the years my passion has remained quite the same, but now days I also try to make useful reflections on my reality. I know this is not answering your question, I will therefore revert back to my answer to the previous question and select Eugène Atget and one of my favorite images by him
13) What gear do you use, and how does your gear, support your photographic vision. How would you describe your photographic Work flow what software, hardware, storage, & filters do you use?
I use view cameras: mainly 8x10 and 4x5 inch and occasionally a medium format 6x7. I use these cameras to slow me down and force me to really look at what I’m interested in. They also make sure that I have to work very accurately. I develop the film and scan to make proof prints, all of which I do myself. The ones I decide to use are sent out to be drum scanned. Final preparations of the files are done with the printer; we keep working until I get the image to look exactly like I imagined it when I took it. At that point I archive it for future use. There really isn’t anything that special about my workflow except that in this world of instant digital output it is a slow manual process. This pace enables me a real absorption of the image throughout the process, before ever reaching the point of deciding whether or not to use it and how.
14) Do you have any regrets with regards to your photography especially when starting out. What would you do differently?
I’m the type that keeps moving forward even when reflecting on the past, so no, no regrets.
15) In your genre style of work, what are the challenges/opportunities to your business. How do you envision yourself 5 years from now?
In 5 years I hope to have finished the two projects on which I have been working for the past 10 years and to move on to focusing full time on the newer ideas, which are in a way the next evolutionary step of my work so far. I feel that I have reached the stage where I really understand what interests me and how I want to translate this into my work. So it really is time to wrap-up some things and move on.
16) In your photographers Imagination, how do you perceive India. What photographs would you like to make of Her?
Given the opportunity, I would probably be interested in focusing on the rich neighborhoods of one of the big cities. Another idea would be creating work around the high-tech industry in India.
Biography In His Own Words
Yaakov Israel was born in 1974 in Jerusalem, Israel where he lives and works.
He graduated in 2002 (B.F.A) with honors from the Department of Photography at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. Since 2004 he has been teaching photography at some of the most prominent art and photography schools and colleges in Israel.
In his work he constantly investigates the Israeli identity as perceived through architecture, landscape and the people living in his country. He finds that he is drawn to document places that are from one point of view characteristic of the Israeli landscape but on the other hand are not noticeable to most. "As a person who takes an interest in my surroundings I find that I return again and again to the same places, and these places and their inhabitants have become vital parts of my biography".
His work has been the subject of solo and group shows in museums and galleries in Israel and internationally. Solo shows include: 'The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey' exhibited at Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, U.S.A. Centro de Arte Alcobendas as part of PhotoEspaña Festival 2013. Czech Centre, Prague, 2013. Impressions Gallery, Bradford, 2013. Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, 2013. Margaret Street Gallery, London, 2012. La Maison de la Photographie, Toulon, 2012. OSLO 8 Gallery, Basel, 2011.'Habitus': The Architecture House Gallery, Jaffa, 2007. 'A Repressed Landscape': The Open Museum of Photography at Tel-Hai, 2005. 'Human Portrait': "Marshim" series at the Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, 2005. Group shows include: Photoquai Photography Biennial, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris 2013. 'EAT': Emergent Artists Trans-Mediterranean, Palace of Lombardy, Milan, Italy 2012, “CONTENTS: LOVE, HAPPINESS, ANXIETY AND EVERYTHING ELSE”, Critical Mass Top 50, Photolucida Traveling exhibition: PhotoCenter NW (PCNW) | Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, OR | Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco 2012, “The Object of Zionism | Architecture of Statehood in Israel 1948-73”, Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel 2011. "Building a Place", the P6 Group and Critical Landscape Photography, the Rubin Museum, Tel-Aviv, 2010. "Dreary Structures, Dreamy Structures", the Ashdod Art Museum, Monart Center, Ashdod 2009. 'APPROACHES': First International Meeting of Photography Centres, Centro Andaluz de la Fotografi’a (Caf), Almeria 2008.
His photographs have been featured in national and international Art & Photography magazines, newspapers and Blogs amongst them in TIME LightBox (US), PDN Magazine (US), hotshoe Magazine(UK), OjodePez Magazine (Spain), Ahorn Magazine(US), Archivo (Portugal), GUP Magazine (Netherlands), PRIVATE Magazine (France), Fraction Magazine (US). Interviews about his work appear in: Vogue Italia, Conscientious, Urbanautica, Landscape Stories, Peta Pixel and Visura On-line Photography Magazine.
He was selected Winner of the PhotoEspaña Descubrimientos PHE12 Award (2012). As one of the three winners of the Conscientious portfolio competition (CPC 2011) and was selected as Critical Mass finalist, Top 50 by Photolucida (2011).
His photographs are part of the Collections of The Knesset (Israel's house of parliament), Haifa Museum of Art, The Open Museum of Photography at Tel-Hai, Ashdod Art Museum and Private Collections.
His first Monograph: “The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey” was published in 2012 by Schilt Publishing from Amsterdam.