The faces of Israelis are plastered across international media on a daily basis. But politicians and talking heads aside, how many people get to see the “real” Israeli? The man selling onions in Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem? The woman with crazy nails in Tel Aviv? The florist in Safed?
“Humans of” is the latest trend in the photography blogosphere.
It all started when American photographer Brandon Stanton launched a photography blog called Humans of New York in 2010. Social media worked its magic and turned Stanton’s street portraits into a trend the entire world wanted to share.
Hundreds of similar blogs – all crediting Humans of New York as their inspiration — have popped up on Tumblr and Facebook.
Erez Kaganovitz, a journalist and photographer, runs the most beautiful of the Israeli blogs – Humans of Tel Aviv and Humans of Israel. Citing the film ‘Cinema Paradiso’ as his inspiration to photograph, Kaganovitz – together with his wife, Reut — has set up gorgeous photo galleries of the people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.
His Humans of Tel Aviv blog is hands-down the best of the lot.
“I think when people from around the world hear about Tel Aviv and Israel they usually think about the Middle East conflict. But there’s a vibrant civil society in Israel, and especially in Tel Aviv. We … have poets, writers, liberals and free spirits.
“When people see my page, they understand that Tel Aviv and the people who live in it are like the people in New York, Paris or Toronto. They share similar values, problems and issues,” Kaganovitz tells ISRAEL21c.
The 31-year-old Kaganovitz started Humans of Tel Aviv, the biggest of the Israeli blogs, in 2012. He already has over 15,000 likes.
His photos are unique, creative, and beautifully framed. Kaganovitz doesn’t just shoot anyone; it’s obvious that he takes time to find the right person for his blog.
“I show the reality of the city as I capture it with my camera. You can see religious orthodox Jews, Muslims and Christians alongside gays, lesbians, and transsexuals; you can see refugees from Africa who fled to Israel, and sophisticated people from Rothschild Boulevard,” he says. “When I upload pictures I am trying to upload stories that capture the intensity of this city, and pictures that have a story to tell.
“The real humans of this city is what makes Tel Aviv such an Interesting, tolerant and multicultural place. You take those people out of the equation and you lose the spirit of Tel Aviv. I am proud to tell their stories in words and pictures because they are the true essence of this city,” he says.
Humans of Jerusalem is run by four photographers from Jerusalem. The potential for this blog is huge but the photographers, who started the blog last year, have only scratched the surface of this fascinating city so far. In the About section, they do promise new photos in the coming months.
With 1,500 likes, the Humans of Safed Facebook page shows the typical arty-orthodox residents of the city. Scroll through the photos and every so often there’s a silver lining of an original portrait.
Humans of Israel, a smaller project Kaganovitz runs, has first-rate photos. Noting the hours and days spent on his Tel Aviv blog, Kaganovitz knows that running both blogs alone is a crazy venture. So, he has an open invitation for others to share photos on the Humans of Israel blog. (HumansofIsrael@gmail.com)
Kaganovitz might not have tallied up the 900,000 likes Humans of New York boasts, but he admits that the feedback to Humans of Tel Aviv has been excellent.
“The responses I get are amazing,” he says, adding that he is open to sponsors wanting to help boost his site. “I get a lot of comments and messages that say that they never thought Tel Aviv was like that. I also get comments from the Arab world. They tell me that Tel Aviv was like planet Mars for them and suddenly they got a glimpse on the Humans of Tel Aviv. They are surprised to see the diversity and tolerance that this city has to offer.”
All photos in this blog were taken by Erez Kaganovitz/Humans of Tel Aviv.