What a joy it is to make photographs of Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Clock Tower, Yehoshua Halevi, photography, workshop, Israel
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There’s a powerful lesson in being able to take photographs of Jerusalem – or anywhere for that matter – in locations I can return to over and over again.


Over-familiarity with a subject makes it easy to dismiss something as unaesthetic or not worth the bother to photograph. Often, we don’t see it at all.


I’ve walked past and admired the Zoharei Chama Synagogue on Jaffa Road on many occasions but often found it weary and unappealing. Then one early morning it grabbed my eye and the sky seemed bluer than I’d ever seen it before and the roof tiles radiated a pure Tuscan orange and the stones gleamed Jerusalem of Gold and suddenly, beauty had displaced blight.


It doesn’t happen often enough in our combustion-coated city centers, but when it does, what a joy it is to make photographs of Jerusalem.


On this particular January morning—which followed a day of wind and rain—the sun shone through crisp, clear air and lit up the city. A hint of residual moisture added sheen to the road.


Photographs of Jerusalem that accentuate the city’s antiquity resonate with emotion, both as nostalgia for the past and gratitude that the city, and country, has survived its difficult history. While this may be a classic photograph of Jerusalem, the building, on its own lacked the energy to make a dynamic image.


I framed the 100-year-old building, also known as the Sundial Building or Mahane Yehuda Clock Tower, using a tree and light post, carefully positioning myself to allow the form of these objects to fall against the blue sky. As the light rail passed by, the sun bounced off the metal cars and shot across the wet pavement, adding an unpredictable and magical element that throws a little spice onto the image. The juxtaposition of the modern railway with the historic structure elevates this photo to a powerful image of 21st-century Jerusalem.


Israel is a country built on miracles. While I can never anticipate when that magical ingredient will show up, when it happens in the city I call home, what a joy it is to make photographs of Jerusalem.

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