Gabi Ben Avraham is truly an amazing street photographer from Israel. Capturing and freezing moments on streets is the way he contemplates at the world and brings it immortality. He’s gifted at being there at the ‘decisive moment’ when the beauty, roughness, and unexplained of the life, people, and world unfold themselves before our artist. His images seem to be part of a saga… or the song of life being played in the fine tune. Gabi is shooting both in color and monochrome – the colour in his photos is bright and saturated – the shades of B&W images play a crucial role in bringing out the drama and elements of life. Here’s our interview of Gabi with some of his select images:
Hello! I am a 54 years old man, married with three children. I work in a software company as an IT manager and live in a quiet neighborhood of Tel-Aviv, the city where I grew up in, have never left and which is a part of me and my photography. I am one of the members of the Street Collective website.
Photography for me is a passion. It is my way of looking at the world around me, whereby I can express my feelings and show the world from my point of view. Like a fisherman who goes to his daily work without knowing what he will catch, I take my camera and dive into the streets without knowing what will happen 5 minutes later. It is an adventure. I have my favorite places and I never return home with the same photos/stories.
It all started long ago but I did not know it was “it”. During the 1980’s I used to take photos with film cameras. Even then I used to wander in the streets of Tel-Aviv in search of the extraordinary. I then stopped and did not touch a camera for next 20 years until I received a digital camera as a gift for my birthday from my wife 4 years ago. The rest is history…. now I take photos mainly during my free time, i.e. weekends and vacations and this is my way of balancing between the 2 worlds. Yet, my camera is always a part of me.
Street photography is my favorite genre. The street is not a studio. Sometimes I stand and wait for things to converge – a cyclist, a dancer, a child – moving along. They are not aware that they are moving towards a certain object, but I am. Via the camera lens I am constantly looking around me, searching for that ‘decisive’ moment that will never return, unless I catch it. When pushing the button, I try to make some sense, restore order to the chaotic scheme of things in the composition. The components ‘speak’ with each other in a special dialogue, either by color, shape, or light.
Capturing the elusive, special moment after which things will never be the same and making it eternal – that is my goal. Forgotten, transparent people in urban surroundings are being granted their moment of grace. The shadows, fragile outlines, reflections within daily lives that are not noticed in the busy and thick urban landscape and sometimes are even crushed by it – these are precious to me.
I used to have Nikon D-800 with a 24 mm prime lens. Now I am using Fuji XT1. I believe that SF needs wide lens and I work only with prime lens. My setting is always on Manual mode as I can control the light better. I try to make minimal editing by Lightroom in the post-processing stage. When I do not find a reason for color I use B/W.
I try to get closer as possible to people without being noticed and create interaction between them and their surrounding, while using light, shadow or color if necessary. Composition is highly important for me. I am also fond of taking objects out of their usual context. I believe that I need to have a personal unique style with my “signature” on it. Popular photography has indeed become repetitive, because it does not have any personal style. In my opinion, the best thing for a photographer is his “signature” on his photos.
My region is highly interesting as TA is a modern city, full of life and energy 24/7. Jerusalem is not far and has the religious and ceremonial aspects in addition to the old city with its wonderful allies and markets. In Israel, there are many religious people of all religions, which bring a wide range of ceremonies. I do not deal with political issues.
Photography definitely has brought many changes in my personality. I now watch people more carefully and focus on their relationship to the environment by reflections, colors, shadows and body language. I wish I had sufficient amount of photos to publish a book.
The most inspiring photographers for me are: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alex Webb, Felix Lupa, Steve McCurry. When I shoot I try to be “a fly on the wall” so people will act naturally and will not pose for me.
My advice is – Look at other photographers’ works on the Web and try to build your own style. Exercise a lot with the camera, find your own master and be open to critics.