I am one of the lucky few who have travelled to many places around the world. I have been to numerous unique destinations photographing people and places with a distinct cultural flavour: Havana, the Mississippi Delta, Morocco, Andalusia, India, Vietnam and Japan amongst them. What I have come to realise is that sometimes one is not aware of what is under one’s very nose.
I was born and grew up in the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv. On the southern side of Tel Aviv lies the city of Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew and Yaffa in Arabic). This city is one of the oldest in the world and some say it is the oldest port in the world. In my twenty something years living in Tel Aviv I hardly ventured to Jaffa. I didn’t have any friends there and I didn’t have any interest in going there. Jaffa was not my "cup of tea”.
Jaffa’s history goes back to biblical times and is dominated by conquerors including Saladin, King Richard the Lionhearted and Napoleon Bonaparte. Jaffa today is part of the city of Tel Aviv in Israel. It is a unique precinct with a diverse population of around 46,000 residents - Jews, Christians, and Muslims - all citizens of Israel. It is also a hub of culture, entertainment, food and tourism.
As I now live in Australia, when I go to Israel I usually stay in a hotel. A few years ago while visiting Israel, I couldn’t find an available room in any hotel in Tel Aviv and therefore I was left with no other option but to stay in Jaffa. Suddenly a new world opened up to me and I fell in love.
Jaffa is a place of contradictions. There is a cross-culture of embrace and rejection, political left and right, love and hate, traditional and contemporary and all in one small city. In this book I have not attempted a comprehensive study of Jaffa, instead I just aimed to frame moments as I found them in the streets and homes of the city, hoping to capture the ambiance and the diversity of Jaffa, keeping in mind ethnicity, tradition, the old and the modern.
As I walked the streets and sat in cafes, I met people over breakfast, in the shops, markets and building sites. Many of these people let me into their thoughts while others, most generously took me into their homes and introduced me to their families. The people of Jaffa are not shy about expressing their opinions. They have visions of how they want to see their city and pride in Jaffa’s history and their roots there. They are also remarkably hospitable and welcoming. There are few places in the world where you see a person in a café, ask permission to photograph them, engage in a conversation with them and then end up being invited for a meal at their home. Jaffa is one of those places where this happened more than once.
The photo-book of 'Somewhere in Jaffa' will be available for purchase from Soho Galleries.