We are thrilled to be working with Neta Litvin. You can check out her collection of photos here. In order to learn more about Neta, we asked her some questions. Enjoy the interview!
1. You are a native Israeli. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family? What it was like growing up in Israel?
I am a second generation sabra, meaning my parents were born in Eretz Yisrael before Israel was its own country. For as long as I can remember, my family has been immersed in the arts. My mother works with various mediums, including clay, wood, and paper. My father is a passionate musician; he plays and teaches the guitar to students of all ages. During the 50’s, he served as a photographer for the Israeli Navy. Growing up in a house filled with music and art, I can proudly and easily trace the roots of my own creativity to my parents’ influence. I was exposed and surrounded to art in all forms, enriching my life from an early age and shaping me into the artist I am today.
Growing up in Israel during the 60’s was equal parts exciting and frightening. My family lived in a small, laid-back neighborhood in Tel Aviv. It was a wonderful place to be a child in, with many other children around to play with. I remember there were always new places to explore and discover. When the Yom Kippur War started, I was already seven years old. I don’t have many strong memories of the war, but I can never forget the uniquely Israeli sense of nationalism. There was a powerfully contagious sentiment that spread among Israelis then: The idea that we will do what we need to protect our beloved country. The Mediterranean coast is a beautiful place, and growing up there was a blissful treat. To this day it remains my favorite spot to return to: Israel will always be my home.
Photography aside, I do enjoy a variety of activities. I thrive in nature, taking walks along dirt paths and breathing in the outside air. When the wind is too chilly and the clouds are a dangerous gray, I spend time indoors where I play classical guitar. I often hum to myself as I strum a few notes, filling the room with tranquil melody. I am the mother of 2 beautiful children, who have grown up to become amazing young adults. At present, my family resides in Northern Virginia.
2. When was the first time that photography interested you? How did you decide that this was something you wanted to do professionally?
My earliest memory of photography comes from composing framed photographs through the viewfinder of my old Reflex Leica, a gift from my father to encourage my talent. During my teen years I took my first of many photography courses. Photography captured me even as I captured each scene. The process of framing and then capturing an instant on film, of choosing one single moment in our rolling reality – and then developing a customized image in the darkroom drew me in completely. The magic happened right before my eyes!
I didn’t start to seriously study photography until after serving in the Israeli army. It has been a long and at times complicated process, turning photography into my main focus. I’ve spent the past 25 years developing my skills in various creative fields through traveling and learning. Now my photography reflects a unique combination of these skills, blending my visual arts studies to explore nature and culture around the world. I am proud to call myself a photographer, and my experiences with photography are best summed up by Ansel Adams: “You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
3. How do you view your role as a photographer?
My role as a photographer is to look widely and deeply at the world around us to find and capture precious moments, subtle emotions and interesting compositions. These are moments that are often overlooked, scenes we miss in our constant rush through life. I see the photographer’s challenge as twofold: finding a significant moment, often through highlighting the seemingly mundane; and sharing this story through a single frame.
My camera is my tool to translate my vision into an art form others can enjoy. Photography allows me to express myself creatively. Every aspect of a photo is representative of my vision; lighting, colors, lines, texture, movement, and composition are all forces working together to convey my own feelings to my audience.
4. What is your view on the camera?
A camera is a necessary tool, but good art is dependent on inspiration. Photography is an art form that cannot be bought or perfected with the most expensive equipment; my images come from scenes and settings that inspire me to capture their raw beauty. I agree with Adams when he says "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." Where does the word image come from? It comes from the word "imagination". If you do not use your imagination, you will wind up with just another photograph. The camera does not attach significance to a photo. Artists fill their work with their own feelings, their own style that distinguishes a piece as being distinctly theirs.
An advantage of being a photographer in the current era is the rapid development of technology. Not just within the camera itself, but involving post-production tools as well. Personally, I enjoy manipulation of raw images to create a uniquely different, and often conflicting, look. One of my favorite art hobbies is digital painting, creating a new image from a photo that mimics the style and appearance of a painting. There really are endless possibilities out there; it’s really up to you to find which tool suits you best.
5. How would you describe your photographic style? Is there any school of thought that inspires and leads you to produce your excellent quality of work?
My careful approach to photography has evolved for decades. Diverse professional training, along with artistic pursuits, show clearly in my work’s emphases: emotion, composition, colors, and capturing organic lines and textures in photographs.
I enjoy observing nature and people and I’ve been photographing both around the world for decades. I am inspired by what is around me, most notably the outdoors. Nature is beautiful, full of wonder and energy. I have a deep love and appreciation for the natural world. Everything is always changing and growing, and creating infinite opportunities for artistic interpretations. Storms are especially a favorite of mine to document through photography. The energy and vibration of the earth is so powerful! There is nothing like the landscape after a storm. I’m in awe of the beauty; the vivid colors and the rich textures in the sky and on the land. The quickly changing environment offers a serious hurdle. My desire is to catch these scenes of pure, raw beauty and glorious drama; to capture them and present them as even more visually interesting to an everyday audience. Witnessing such raw beauty is divine, I feel as though I’m witnessing the creation of earth!
6. What is your favorite spot in Israel to photograph?
Israel, despite its small size, is abundant with diversity in its many beautiful and contrasting regions. Northern Israel, such as the Golan Heights, defines itself through lush greenery, magnificent mountains, cascading waterfalls, wineries, and volcanic hills. The other side of the country features quite the opposite. The wilderness of the Judean Desert and the Negev’s expansive desert land create a very different scenic look. There’s so much to explore within the small country.
I’m completely enchanted and drawn to Israel’s nature spots. My personal favorites would have to be the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi oasis, lower and upper Galilee including the Sea of Galilee, and the Mediterranean Sea shore line. Photographing water and exploring its relationship with the land and sky is my favorite way to interact with the uniquely Israeli environment.
7. What message would you like to communicate to the world about Israel, and the Jewish People?
Israel is such a special place! It is home to all the Jewish people, secular and orthodox, and it the Israeli society is truly unlike any other. Combined with its rich history, stunning landscape, cultural diversity, amazing food, and warm people, Israel surely exists as a treasured place on earth. There are certainly plenty of challenges that lie ahead, but I believe the Israeli people will successfully overcome these hurdles. After all, the Jewish people have always been able to rise again, even in the most extreme circumstances. I hope Israel will find ways to reach coexistence and lasting peace; we want our children to live in a safe state, free of existential fear, and to have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
The Hope, Israel’s National Anthem, express this sentiment very well:
“As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope - the two-thousand-year-old hope - will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land, The land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
The majority of our art and photography feature buildings and landscapes, showing the physical beauty of Israel that we all know and love. The landscapes, the historical sites and cities- they're incredible. They speak for themselves.
However, we also included some art in the Israel Framed gallery that is a little different in style. Shoshannah Brombacher, a painter from Brooklyn, is a highlight in our collection. Often compared to Marc Chagall, she creates vivid, spiritual scenes that convey important moments from the Bible.
Hasidism is a spiritual movement that aims to bring joy to Jewish religious life and practice. You can feel the joy and wonder pouring out of Shoshannah's art.
We partner with Shoshanna because her scenes are alive with Jewish and Biblical Heritage. The Jewish connection to Israel is undeniable. We celebrate this bond with a colorful series of paintings- truly in the spirit of Israel.
See her whole collection here: http://israelframed.com/collections/all/shoshannah-brombacher
Amid stressful and unpredictable lives, with busy works weeks and seemingly endless errands, we find ourselves desperate for the occasional escape, the refuge where we can find meaning. Despite the flurry of tasks, we are able to calm our inner worlds when we attach to something profound. And often times, we connect to this depth through the art that graces the walls of our homes. We've picked our collections of paintings, drawings, photographs, and more because each and every one of them touched something deep inside of us.
What is it about art that speaks to us? Why is it that one piece may have no effect on us, where another creates a poignant burst of nostalgia or a mountain of sadness? There are no rational answers to these questions. Science cannot "prove" the emotional and spiritual significance of art, yet we know it is there. It is beautiful because it comes from the heart of the artist and connects to our hearts.
Biblical Sunset - Arthur Gold
One of the joys of building and running Israel Framed is the opportunity to give people such experiences, and allow them to feel the power and spirit of Israel in their homes. A question we get a lot is how we describe ourselves as a business in one sentence. And it's been more complicated to answer that question than we might have thought. Yes, we are an ecommerce business that offers Israeli art and photography. Yes, we provide Israeli gifts and home decor. Yes, we sell Judaica and visual art.
Except none of those phrases do it justice. They might say what we are doing in the most literal sense. But it definitely doesn't convey our passion for Israel, and it doesn't even come close to showing the neshama (soul) of the art.
So there's really no other way to put it. Israel Framed is a business with a soul, and that soul shows up as the essence of our art. It has been an incredible journey, and we hope to have the opportunity to continue to spread the magic of Israel.
Israel offers landscapes and sceneries that offer profound inspiration to painters, photographers, and many other types of visual artists. As result, Israel has some of the best art in the world. Here are five pieces of Israeli art and photography that would look incredible in any home:
Safed (Tsvat) - Stretched Canvas ($99-219). A drawing of the mystical city, one of the main centers of Kabbalah in Israel.
Drawing by Arthur Gold
Jerusalem at Night - Framed Print ($169-$219). A stunning black and white photo of the Jerusalem landscape.
Photo by Iris Cohenian.
Safe Harbor - Stretched Canvas ($69-179). A relaxing photo of boats in the Port of Tel Aviv.
Photo by Iris Cohenian.
Galilee Palm - Framed Print ($169-$219). A beautiful, verdant photo of Israeli agriculture and farming in the Galilee.
Photo by Iris Cohenian
Snow and Prayer by the Western Wall - Framed Canvas ($79-249). A close-up photo of the Western Wall during a snowfall.
Photo by Iris Cohenian.
Independence Day. A celebration of values and history. A commitment to honor a system, that although imperfect in some ways, strives to improve itself and be a symbol of freedom for those outside its borders.
America and Israel, two states bonded together by a commitment to democracy and liberty. Happy birthday America!
Photo Credit: Jewish World Review
Iris Cohenian is a Jerusalem-based photographer working with Israel Framed. Iris was one of our first photographers, and we have been consistently inspired by her work. Some of our favorite photos by her are Women of Valor and Jaffa Sunset, and you can see her entire collection here. In order to learn more about Iris, we asked her a few questions. Enjoy the interview!
Q. You are an Israeli of Iranian descent. Could you tell us a little bit about how your family ended up in Israel and what it was like growing up in the 90's?
A. I actually never lived in Iran, as I was born in Israel after my family left the country. In 1979, there was a religious revolution in Iran [when the Shah was overthrown]. In the aftermath of these events, attitudes toward Jews worsened, and it became extremely difficult for my family and the Jewish community.
At a certain point, my family made the decision to immigrate to Israel, but the government banned Jews from leaving. The story of their escape is one of extraordinary courage. My father obtained official certificates that granted permission for my mother and brothers to fly to Turkey for an urgent family visit. By falsely guaranteeing their return, my father risked potential punishment and death. My mother and brothers left the country, while my father stayed behind.
Afterwards, my father disguised himself a Muslim Hezbollah activist (this story itself will take up a lot of space, so I won't go into details here). Using this disguise and a forged passport, my father was able to escape from Iran. My family reunited in Turkey and after visiting the Israeli Embassy, they came to Israel. The first thing my parents did when they arrived was to kiss the ground in gratitude. All of this happened in 1987, a year before I was born.
I do not remember anything special about growing in the 90s in Israel. My childhood was fun and simple. This was a time when children did not have electronics to entertain themselves. We played in the yard with a ball every day after school, all the children of the building - we played ball games, tag, hide and seek. It was innocent and wonderful.
When was the first time that photography interested you? How did you decide that this was something that you wanted to professionally?
I think I always enjoyed taking pictures, and I used to play with an analog film camera even when I was very young. However, I didn’t take photograph seriously until the beginning of college. I planned to study engineering, and about two weeks before the beginning of the school year, I canceled my registration for personal reasons. I suddenly had an empty year ahead, and I needed a creative way to occupy myself.
It was a difficult year for me for a variety of reasons. I dealt with multiple crises that shook my confidence and challenged my faith. After many moments of uncertainty, I realized that I needed to do something that would enrich my soul and express my spirit. I decided to enroll in a basic course of photography. I bought a small camera and began to photograph everything.
Since then, I have become addicted. Photography is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It heals me completely and it moves me every time. I love the fact that there is always an opportunity to learn and improve. It's just fascinating. When was the actual moment when I decided to go to college and official study it as a major? I honestly do not remember. It was a gradual decision.
You studied in art/photography school- describe what that was like. Challenges? Influences?
I attended Hadassah College in Jerusalem, a phenomenal program. The best thing about photography school is the group-based learning. You get incredibly inspired by your peers and the feedback you get brings your photography to new levels. Photography school made me more confident as an artist and really allowed me to get in touch with my inner talents.
What kind of camera do you use? What are the advantages?
I shoot with a Canon 7D. It is excellent!
The biggest advantage is that it is insanely fast and it's great for street photography and photojournalism (can reach 8-9 frames per second!). It is an extremely sensitive camera and the picture becomes grained fairly quickly, so it takes a very careful eye to use it properly.
How would you describe your photographic style? Is there any school of thought or specific photographer that inspires and leads you to produce your excellent quality of work?
I think of myself as a documentary and journalism photographer. Though I have a variety of styles in my portfolio, I love to photograph current events such as protests and demonstrations (See: Women of the Wall). It is invigorating to capture the energy of these events.
Documentary projects are different and run at a much slower pace. However, when I work on these, I get to meet wonderful people and portray amazing stories. In general, I think documentary photography is an extraordinary social medium.
The photographer that inspires me most is Noam Moskowitz. He is an extremely talented Israeli photographer. I think he was one of the major influencers in my decision to study photography. Another talented individual is Itai Anghel. He is a senior news correspondent in Israel who covers wars and conflict zones. I took several courses taught by him and learned both technical and storytelling skill from him. Both Noam and Itai are great inspiration for me.
What is the photography community like in Israel? Do you belong to any groups?
There are many photography communities in Israel, both professional and amateur. And besides, everyone is a photographer these days, even if they are just working with their phone. I see this as a blessing- it's fantastic that other people enjoy photography, and that they have the opportunity to speak a visual language.
I don’t belong to a specific community, although I work in informal settings with many of the people I met in photography school.
What is your favorite spot in Israel to photograph?
I guess the answer is clear… Jerusalem! Everything is happening here: good and evil, Joy and sadness, old and new and natural and urban. Jerusalem offers magnificent visual scenes that no other place can compete with. And it's amazing, because anything is possible here. It is no coincidence that everyone is fighting over this city, it is extraordinarily beautiful. I'm a little biased, after all, I was born and raised here, but I think my personal acquaintance with this city only benefits my photographs. Lately, I am working on a project in the Old City.
But if I am honest with myself, I am more captivated by the people of Jerusalem more than anything else.
What message would you like to communicate to the world about Israel, Zionism and the Jewish People?
Wow, what a question. There is plenty to say… Perhaps I'll just say that though Israel is a small country, it is lovely and beautiful. It contains all the best things that the world can offer, and despite all of the challenges, life here is beautiful and people are mostly happy. Everyone is welcome to visit. I promise to you a personal tour ;)
See her entire collection here
For a country that is not much larger than the state of New Jersey, Israel offers travelers a plethora of sights, food, and culture. From gorgeous coastlines to rugged deserts, the small nation of Israel encompasses many climates familiar to those of us from Southern California.
The small size of the country enables travelers to enjoy all that it has to offer without ever hopping on an airplane. It almost pains us to limit Israel to 10 "musts," but for the sake of this blog, we will focus on our top 10!
In the Golan Heights you'll definitely want to enjoy a cultural stay in a kibbutz (which is a collective community based on agriculture). This traditional offering enables you to enjoy traditional Israeli cuisine, but also to enjoy the lush green scenery surrounding the kibbutz. If you like to stay healthy and fit while traveling like we do, you're in luck! The Golan Heights has plenty of hiking trails so definitely check some of them out!
One of the most gorgeous hikes in the Golan Heights was one that led to the waterfall pictured above. The Golan Heights is so lush and filled with vegetation, so the hikes are absolutely breathtaking.
Challenge modern travel here a bit and continue your cultural experience by spending a night or two in a Bedouin Tent in the Negev Desert. The experience is unlike anything you'll find. The traditional Bedouin dinner you'll enjoy was one of the most delicious Israel had to offer! To top off the traditional experience take a sunrise ride on a camel!
The history of Masada is rich and the views that it offers are incredible! The hike to Masada provided endless views of the Dead Sea. The hike is quite flexible as well, as you can make it a short hike that would last about 20 minutes or a long hike that would take you about two hours.
Masada makes you feel like you've traveled back in time into an ancient civilization. In the pinnacle of it's history, Masada had a glorious bath house and even a steam room! Quite incredible for being on top of a mountain in the middle of the desert.
Watching the sunrise over the lowest crevice on Earth was honestly one of the most remarkable moments of the trip. You can even yell and hear your echo bounce off the surrounding cliffs!
Floating in the Dead Sea has to be one of the more perplexing things you'll ever experience. No, not floating on a raft, or laying on your back to become buoyant. The amount of salt in the Dead Sea will literally cause you to float! Without effort you'll be floating and soaking up the sun in one of the most historic seas on Earth.
Aside from the obvious benefit of extreme relaxation, the Hamei Tveria Hot Springs offer a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee!
It would only be fitting that the "Manhattan of Israel" get recognized properly. Tel Aviv offers everything. From beautiful coastal beaches to high rises, and of course, to the rich history of Israel. Tel Aviv has many gorgeous hikes which you'll want to get to...that is if you can muster up the energy to leave the beach! The "Manhattan" aspect of Tel Aviv is really noticed when walking through the city center. The nightlife is another key aspect that has travelers referring to Tel Aviv as Israel's Manhattan. Bars on the beaches and night clubs in the city prove that Israel knows how to have a good time. Tel Aviv also offers beautiful street art which has been made famous by Rami Mieri. Jaffa (the seaport pictured above) is the last must see for Tel Aviv. Jaffa is an artist colony with views of the sea and the city.
Jerusalem might be arguably the most historic city in the world. Jerusalem is also known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, al-Asqa Mosque, and the Temple Mount are most notable among the religious sites that Jerusalem boasts. Make sure to adventure through the Old City when you're in Jerusalem. The Old City has been divided into four religious quarters (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian) and offers a very rich history. The city is encompassed by trees and many of the buildings are made of white limestone. You'll see plenty of fancy store fronts and beautiful main streets which are almost reminiscent of Rome.
There is no other way to put it than to say bluntly that the food of Israel is delicious. Rich, and full of flavors, Israeli food offers something for everyone. Many Israelis have indulged in the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, so Falafel and Israeli salads are very common. Hot hummus and eggplant dishes are also very prevalent. So if you're a vegan or vegetarian, do not worry! You'll be well accommodated. If you prefer to indulge in meat, however, shawarma in a laffa or chicken curry are the way to go!
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv both have many places you can shop, but the most notable are the Shooks Here you'll find tons of food, spices, jewelry, and clothes.
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are among 14 cities selected to receive 'Innovation Team' Grants from Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic organization.