Noticing an interesting situation around us, which could attract attention of many other people, is a gift not given to all of us. Being a talented photographer and having that beautiful gift is the combination worth paying attention.
Ilan Ben Yehuda is that kind of a street photographer. I should call him a street photographer as I do write about his street portfolio. In this case, I would call him a “life photographer” or even better a “Storyteller”. Yes. A Storyteller describes exactly what he does.
If we value a decisive moment in the street photography. And we do. Ilan Ben Yehuda does not stop there. His photographs tells at least two different stories.
Have a look on Ilan’s photographs and try to be in his position. Where from does he take the photographs? The shooting angle is weird but it is also a big hit – on every single of his photographs. It makes the photographs so powerful that it attracts one to come closer and observe them once again.
The same happened to me. The weird angle attracted me. Then I look at his photographs once again. The second element which I personally like is the motion. This element is simply gently woven into his every photograph.
And when you think, that’s it, there is another unique surprise. There is not only one story on the majority of his photographs. There are at least two stories, two situations, two different worlds. Why is that? Is Ilan, maybe, not satisfied with only one layer or is it such an environment in which you can not separate one situation only?
To isolate a subject from the rest, the street photographer usually shoot with the aperture wide open. Great. It does make sense. The thing is that you automatically limit the number of stories you are telling with your photograph.What Ilan does is that he closes the aperture in order to show at least two stories on each of his photographs. Well done!
© Ilan Ben Yehuda All Rights Reserved
Zoran: First of all, many thanks for accepting this interview. We do not know each other personally and I will be writing about your photographs, how do you feel about that?
Ilan: I feel honored. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that someone from different place and culture ﬁnd my work interesting to present and write about it.
Q: Who are you? Please give me a quick answer on this one.
A: Ilan Ben Yehuda . A graphic designer by profession and a street photographer who has studied photography in Camera Obscura Tel aviv and philosophy in the Hebrew university Jerusalem. Living in Ramat gan Israel.
Q: Yourself as a photographer. Are you a different person with and without a camera in your hands?
A: With the camera in the street I feel more conﬁdent and more connected to the people in the street.
Q: What does Photography mean to you?
A: This is my religion. A major part of my life. I eat and drink photos and dream about photos at night. 🙂 it’s effect my mind and emotions. A week that I take good pic make ﬁll high …. just like a drug addict.
Q: Do you consider yourself an amateur or a pro? Considering quality and knowledge and not earning as a photographer.
A: I consider myself as pro in the ﬁeld of street photography. Still I feel that I have to learn more and improve myself every day.
Q: How do you see your development as a photographer? When we talk about different categories in photography, different ﬁeld of interest. Moving ahead, changing the way you photograph.
A: I feel now more conﬁdent….. I was starting to shoot documentary and portraits and now the major part of my photography is street photography. I feel I am improving everyday, but it’s not a linear progress. It also becomes difﬁcult from everyday because you have to provide something new and better.
Q: In your opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from other photographers. What are you doing differently? Is this in line with the perception of the viewer?
A: This is very difficult question. In the digital era every one is copying from every one. I prefer that someone else will answer. I am just saying that I feel that my photographs look somehow authentic, and meaningful for me.
Q: How often do you take photographs?
A: I am taking photographs about three times a week.. about two or three hours for every time.
Q: Do you work on a special photo project and how long it takes to accomplish one project. Please give an example.
A: I have some special projects. One of them Is to take photos in Jewish orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The project ends when I feel I don’t have something new to give. I can shoot in the same place for years.
Q: Have you ever spent some time thinking about your photographs and if yes, why?
A: Yes I am thinking all the time. Especially about the new one. I have to see if there something interesting in the photo that can attract viewers. I am also changing my mind about some of my photos .
Q: In the majority of your photographs, there is a person in the foreground and than another action in the background? Why that?
A: To create contrast, or to view the subject threw something else, or to bring up more than one story.
Q: Close your eyes for a couple of seconds and think about your photographs.Now give me 3-5 words which would describe them the best.
A: Very difficult to answer. When I see my photos i said to my self : this is work, I did something.
Q: How close you approach the subject with your camera? Do you feel comfortable to be very close to the subject almost inside the scene.
A: I shoot in wide angle 24 mm lens and feel very comfortable with it.
Q: Have you ever had a problem with someone whom you wanted to photograph?A: All the time.
Q: What is that what drives you to take photographs? Is it a ﬁnal result or the act of photographing? Please elaborate.
A: Obviously I am enjoying the photographic process and even more I enjoy the ﬁnal result when I catch something signiﬁcant. It’s a real mystery to me when I am thinking about what it drives you to take a photo. I think you need a special psychological tendency for photography something in the personality structure.
Q: What do you think about the photo competitions? Can art be a competition?
A: I think not, especially when the competition is one photo. But the competition drives us to take pictures and publish it. To evaluate photography needs to see projects, style, and many other parameters.
Q: Black and white or colour? And why?
A: Usually black & white because it gives the pure scene. Also the subjects become more expressive. But there are kind of photos that work better in color. When there colour combination is important for the subject.
Q: What is your favourite lens?
A: Usually I shoot in wide angle 24mm lens.
Q: In your opinion, what tells a better story, a single photo or a series of photographs.
A: Usually I think a series. Because in series you can see the intention and the style of the photographer.But sometimes single image can be so powerful and no need for series.
Q: Photoshop or not i.e. what % of photographs do you take on spot. We will then consider the rest of % as a post processing.
A: I usually use Photoshop but just for cropping, converting, sharpening and brightness /construct. Beyond that the photo will not be a street photo.
Q: What is photography? Please give us your favorite statement about photography which the readers will remember. It should be yours.
A: For me photography is to catch the odd and the impossible in the daily life.
Q: Do you have a set of private photographs which you are not willing to publish?
A: Yes I have. I took some photos of homeless and drug addicts in Tel Aviv. Some of the photos I am not publishing because I ﬁnd them hurting human dignity.
Q: One of the well known photographer said why photographing if you do no show the photographs to other people. What is your view here?
A: Photos should be seen. You have to publish to be a photographer. If not, it’s like a poet writing poetry for the drawer.
Q: The most frequent mistake you make when you take photographs.
A: I am so eager to shoot when I see something interesting and I am not checking the exposure.
Q: Could you please share a little piece of knowledge (around photography, taking photographs etc.) which could be useful for our readers.
A: You have to observe and try to anticipate what going to happen in order to ﬁnd interesting scene.
Q: And, ﬁnally, whatever you wanted to say and we did not ask you please say.
A: This was remarkable interview. It helped me to arrange my thoughts about photography. Unfortunately because time and language I didn’t said all the things in my mind. thanks