As far back as I can remember I was always equally obsessed with art on one hand and technology on the other. I have this vivid memory of myself as a young child sketching out the idea for what I later found out already existed as the jet engine. Around the same time I spent hours learning how to draw dozens of Disney characters from a poster in my bedroom so I could draw them by heart for my classmates. When my wife and I got married at a young age we asked our friends to buy us a Nikon SLR. I felt like photography had been invented for me: technology at the service of art! I ended-up riding the Tech boom by spending the first 20 years of my career in startups while practicing photography in my spare time. Around 2015 is when I decided to reverse these priorities: it was time to refocus my career on my love for photography.
I was born in a small kibbutz in Northern Israel to the children of holocaust survivors on both sides. My dad was an avid photographer who had the only darkroom of our Kibbutz. We moved to France when I was 4 years old and I grew up in a diverse working class Parisian suburb. I moved to the New York area in 1995 and then moved again to Los Angeles in 2003. I’m sure my sense of empathy for the outcast has something to do with my family’s history of persecution and having to constantly adapt to different cultures growing up as an outsider.
I’m not one of those street photographers who always takes their camera with them wherever they go and shoot all the time. There’s a part of me who finds the idea romantic but for good or for bad I tend to be much more deliberate with my photography. You’ll rarely see me carrying my Leica unless I’m actively working on a specific project. When I do I shoot a lot and I shoot often.
That said I can spend weeks without shooting when I’m busy with all the other aspects of a photography career like editing, processing, promoting, working with my book publisher, printing, exhibiting, researching, getting access, etc. I don’t think most people realize how little time professional photographers actually spend shooting.
My first book was about the endangered eccentric culture of the Venice Beach Boardwalk. The second one, which is coming out in a few months, is about a family of vehicle dwellers: Mormons from Brazil with 3 young children ages 2, 5 and 10 who live in a school bus on the streets of Los Angeles. I have several other projects in progress but I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise! What my projects have in common is that they are social documentaries. I strive to make photographs that not only tell stories but also call for attention. I use tools like composition and strong moments to entice viewers to look at subjects they would otherwise ignore.
Reflecting on my first two projects published as books it seems that I tend to be drawn to documenting outcasts. I think it’s both because I find them more interesting than regular people and because I identify with them. What puts a smile on my face is when my photography can help lessen stigma by revealing the beauty of lives lived outside of the mainstream.