Abigail Klein Leichman
January 24, 2019, Updated March 28, 2019

On April 11, 1909, several dozen families gathered on the sand dunes for a lottery — using gray and white seashells — to assign building plots in the first modern Hebrew city: Ahuzat Bayit, later known as Tel Aviv.

Exactly 110 years later, “Tel-Avivi” street photographer Ido Biran is releasing 1909, his book of 190 photos of the city he calls home.

Shopping in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market. Photo by Ido Biran

“The book will conclude my work since 2014 documenting the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and creating its portrait. It will take the viewer into a visual tour along the city’s neighborhoods, architecture, beaches, street art and most importantly, its people, the ‘Tel-Avivim,’” says Biran, whose 39th birthday also falls in April.

“My vision is to bring Tel Aviv to the world while traveling with the book and sharing my passion for this vibrant unique city,” Biran adds.

A Tel Aviv dog walker. Photo by Ido Biran
Lifeguards on Metzitzim Beach, Tel Aviv. Photo by Ido Biran

Trained in cinematography and architecture, Biran first caught the photography bug during a post-army trip through Europe during which he shot 120 rolls of film.

After completing his education, he worked for two years in architecture and interior design. And then he took the bold step of quitting his job to devote himself to photography.

Municipality building on Ibn Gabirol Street. Photo by Ido Biran
The architecture of Tel Aviv. Photo by Ido Biran

To capture his candid shots, Biran roamed the streets for four years, rain or shine, with an unobtrusive Sony Alpha 7R with a 35mm fixed lens.

“I photographed mainly on the street but also from rooftops, skyscrapers, the sea and while commuting on public transportation,” he says.

“Tel-Avivi” street photographer Ido Biran. Photo by Peter Varga
The skyline of Tel Aviv through a blue railing on the Isrotel Tower. Photo by Ido Biran

To support himself, he does commercial photography for urban companies; leads street-photography workshops around Tel Aviv; curates and produces exhibitions related to Tel Aviv; and sells souvenirs featuring his photos (available in local stores including the gift shop at the Bauhaus Center).

A restored building on Tel Aviv’s Nahalat Binyamin promenade. Photo by Ido Biran
Boat-hopping on the Yarkon River, with Ussishkin Bridge in the background. Photo by Ido Biran

“I also produce branded gifts for organizations,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “I supply gifts to the municipality, and recently the Israeli tourist office in Scandinavia ordered coasters and magnets with my pictures from Tel Aviv as well as Jerusalem.”

A skateboarder in Tel Aviv. Photo by Ido Biran
A study in contrasts on Abulafia Street in Tel Aviv. Photo by Ido Biran

Most of the photos in the nine-chapter 1909 book come from Biran’s “Urban Mosaic” collection of 250 images, exhibited to great acclaim a couple of years ago in the neighborhood of Florentin.

Detail of Heichal Yehuda Synagogue on Ben Sarouk Street, Tel Aviv. Photo by Ido Biran
Traffic whizzing by Shalom Meir Tower in Tel Aviv. Photo by Ido Biran

One chapter is devoted to pictures of Jaffa, the ancient port city that officially merged with the Tel Aviv municipality in 1950.

Jaffa Port. Photo by Ido Biran

Biran has thousands of followers on social media, and recently ran a crowdfunding campaign to enable him to publish 1909.

The April 12 book launch will be at the Nachalat Binyamin arts and crafts fair.

Two actors on a coffee break from rehearsals at the Tel Aviv Opera House. Photo by Ido Biran


More on Life

Fighting for Israel's truth

We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

More on Culture