The Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards are organised by Travcom (New Zealand Travel Communicators) to celebrate excellence in travel writing and photography.
The photography awards were judged by a panel of three; Rob Lile, director of One Shot image library, Jenny Nicholls, Art Director for North & South magazine and Tessa Chrisp, past winner of the Cathay Pacific Travel Photographer of the Year Award. The Travel Photographer of the Year is judged on the entire portfolio of published work.
Rob Lile said: “This year a clear and unanimous favourite appeared amongst the many images put forward for the scrutiny of a tough judging panel. While there were many images that caught our eye and invited second and third viewings, one series stood out, indicating the work of a master visual storyteller. Ilan’s images transported us to centuries-old locations to examine modern lives intertwined with layers of time. They displayed patience and sensitivity as a storyteller becomes immersed in the worlds of people going about their ordinary daily lives, as unobtrusively as possible. His presence is accepted; images are not overtly posed nor awkward and each subject is entirely comfortable with the interaction. The creative journey continued through careful post production, printing and mounting, all reflecting the skills of a professional determined to present his vision as perfectly as possible. This was a powerful series that will live in our minds for a long time.”
A hunched nun is walking briskly across the busy platform in front of the dome of the Rock Mosque. The old city of Jerusalem, Israel.
Man praying outside the Dome of the Rock the old city of Jerusalem, Israel. This is one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture.
Teenager transporting gas bottles down the main alley at the old city of Jerusalem. He steps on the tyre dragging along the ground in order to slow down the trolley when descending downhill.
A man preparing Turkish coffee for his customers at the back of his Shishas smoking shop. The old city of Jerusalem, Israel.
A man brushing the brass souvenirs to shine the merchandise. The old city of Jerusalem, Israel.
BARE TRUTH PORTFOLIO IS SET TO TURN HEADS AT HEAD ON PHOTO FESTIVAL
Head On Photo Festival’s Associated programme for 2016 includes at least one show that’s bound to turn heads – a striking collection of monochrome images of bare chested New Zealand men.
One of the key aims of photographer Ilan Wittenberg’s ‘Bare Truth’ campaign was to counter-balance the portrayal of men as strong, physically and emotionally. “This stereotype sometime leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety,” he says.
“I wanted to raise awareness; give men the freedom to express their feelings and connect with their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes. The project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.”
The combination of shooting in monochrome, using soft, directional light and adopting a special post-processing technique allowed Wittenberg to enhance the features of his ‘models’ so that the images are raw and crisp. The simple backgrounds eliminate distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.
The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections, Wittenberg created portraits of close friends and family members. As the portfolio expanded, he formalised a consistent style and became confident in approaching strangers – men who had an interesting appearance or whose face told a story.
“While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone, particularly when asked to strip down to the waist. One man expected the experience to be therapeutic while others were slightly nervous. The results show a captivating mix of men that are humble, courageous and vulnerable.”
The project gained momentum after selected prints from the body of work won awards in the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. ‘Bare Truth’ was also selected for exhibition as part of the Signature Programme of Auckland Festival of Photography.
The show will run from May 12 to 23 at Gaffa gallery in Sydney.
Ilan Wittenberg – Bare Truth
Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence St, 2000 Central Sydney, NSW, Australia
Bare Truth is a captivating collection of portraits of New Zealand men who are humble, courageous and vulnerable. Their photographs expose and reveal who they really are. The edgy portraits are presented in monochrome to emphasize their shape and form. The simple background eliminates distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.
The combination of using a soft, directional light while adapting a special post-processing technique enabled me to enhance their features so the images are raw and crisp. They look directly into my camera so there is always a highlight in their eyes.
Many cultures portray men as strong, physically and emotionally. This stereotype sometimes leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms, depression, stress and anxiety. One of the goals of this project is to raise awareness; give men freedom to express their feelings and connect to their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see the real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes.
We are all flesh and blood and we are here on this planet for a short period of time. This project simply reminds us of how fragile we are. In creating this collection I aim to demonstrate a clear style, to tell a story while being imaginative and thought-provoking. I wish to inspire people with distinct images that are crisp and sharp, to be creative and artistic, to evoke emotions and to show a personal vision.
The idea of creating portraits of men who expose their chest evolved gradually. The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections and setbacks, I created a portrait of a close friend and became really engaged with the look in his eyes.
At the beginning I asked only family and friends to participate. After gaining valuable experience and formalising a consistent style, I expanded the portfolio and became confident in approaching total strangers. Having a small folio helped in overcoming objections, until the project gained a critical mass with dozens of portraits. I focused on capturing a variety of ethnic groups, poses, age groups and body sizes.
Once the portfolio increased in size, I became more selective and started approaching men who had a more interesting appearance; those whose face tells a story. While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone.
The Bare Truth project gained further momentum after selected prints from this body of work won prestigious awards at the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards form the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography as wall as international awards.
The Bare Truth portfolio was later chosen to be exhibited as part of the Signature Programme of the 2016 Auckland Festival of Photography.
Bare Truth – Auckland Festival of Photography
Ilan Wittenberg – Bare Truth
Northart Gallery • 5 June – 22 June
Opens 4:00pm on Sunday 5 June
Hours 10am-4pm daily
Where Norman King Square (Opposite the Library), Ernie Mays Street,Northcote Shopping Centre
Artists Ilan Wittenberg
John Hurrell – 25 March, 2016, TE URU , Auckland
20 February – 1 May 2016
A suite of 27 photographs that look at some of the personalities who operate as vendors in the four quarters (Muslim, Jewish, Armenian, Christian) within the Old City of Jerusalem, Ilan Wittenberg’s images are characterised by density of detail, spectacular acuity and lots of tonal midrange. Almost everything is in focus, there is very little bright white, and the eye is caressed as it wanders across the print’s surface. Even with the deep perspective of (say) receding shelves, the plethora of detail flattens and accentuates the picture plane.
For those of us who have never visited this city, these photographs pack in a lot of information, such as the types of product being sold, the market being pitched to, the ethnic traditions of the shopkeepers, the architectural backgrounds around each stall and materials used. We see (for example) pistachios, hookahs, oils, prayer beads, gas cylinders, images of saints, plates, busts, incense, brass gongs, bells, tobacco, tea, tunics, smocks, lamps, and plaques – a vast range of easy-to-transport (instantly purchasable) merchandise. Here is a selection of Wittenberg’s images with this link.
It is the fineness of the detail, an intricacy of each particular documented element that fascinates, a compactness that is without graininess or blur, that density providing clarity.
While about three-quarters of the images feature vendors (most indoors, one outside), there are also a few street shots of people out and about, like a boy with a cart, or a nun crossing the street. The titles however are pretty non-descript and it is a shame they don’t include the subjects’ names, so that the cultural mix is made even more immediately apparent and we can get more specific information about their stories.
Somehow there is something missing with this show. These are terrific images that are loaded with information you can extract (if you are familiar with the city), but a few details in the titles – identifying each person and each site – would have made it so much richer for a New Zealand audience. Less touristy and shallow. Less voyeuristic. More contextual.
Ilan Wittenberg — Faces of Jerusalem: An Interfaith Journey
Auckland Photographer of the Year award, Ilan Wittenberg is currently exhibiting at Titirangi’s Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery.
Faces of Jerusalem — An Interfaith Journey runs from February 20th until 1st May.
Ilan says: “Faces of Jerusalem is a compelling collection of photographs. This documentary portfolio offers a journey to the Old City through its people. Their proud portraits reflect the rich culture and turbulent history of Jerusalem. Created during January 2015, it presents a glimpse into their lives. The different merchants are surrounded by their products. The souvenirs are intended for tourists and pilgrims who walk the ancient, narrow streets while visiting some of the holiest and most sacred religious temples in the world.
In many cases I was able to talk to the merchants so they are looking straight at me with a natural expression. I find that this results in more engaging portraits than candid photography. Most photos were taken in ambient light without flash or tripod so to create a more authentic scene.
The images are presented in monochrome which emphasizes shape and form. The sepia tone creates a timeless atmosphere while eliminating distracting colours. This makes the set more uniform regardless of the light or the time of day. It helps in focusing viewers’ attention on the people, their body language and their facial expressions. It also gives me the opportunity to create dramatic images using contrast and structure.
My goal in creating this portfolio is to show an authentic view of a foreign land. I aim to demonstrate a clear style, to tell a story while being imaginative and thought-provoking. I wish to inspire people with distinct images that are crisp and sharp, to be creative and artistic, to evoke emotions and to show a personal vision.”
Te Uru states: “The turbulent politics affecting prominent cities like Jerusalem can often have depersonalising effects, whereby the people who live there become secondary to the tug of war over the spaces they occupy. In this series of photographs, Ilan Wittenberg provides us with a rehumanised look at the Old City of Jerusalem, which occupies less than one square kilometer. The images feature proud merchants from across all four quadrants of the Old City: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Christian Quarter. Together, they offer a portrait of the city as one occupied by real people eking out a living from day-to-day transactions in places densely packed with culture and history.
Wittenberg was awarded the title of 2015 Auckland Photographer of the Year by the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography for this body of work.”
You can find our more about Faces of Jerusalem and Ilan’s work at:
Don’t miss the compelling new monochrome-style photography exhibition from Auckland photographer of the year, Ilan Wittenberg
Ilan Wittenberg’s collection of monochrome, documentary-style images are on display now until May 1 at West Auckland’s Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. Earlier last year Wittenberg, who was born in Israel, made a special journey to Jerusalem to capture on film portraits of some of the many residents and merchants of the Old City who had captivated him on previous trips.
It is this collection of photographs from Wittenberg’s visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site that contributed to him winning the NZIPP 2015 Auckland Photographer of the Year award.
Wittenberg spent days exploring the winding, cobbled streets and tiny, dimly lit shops of the Muslim, Jewish, Armenian and Christian quarters and capturing a range of people going about their daily lives.
It was the city’s merchants that Wittenberg was particularly drawn to. Explaining why, Wittenberg says “many people are not happy, you can see that, but that’s for good reasons: the economy is down. There are very few customers and very little foot traffic because there is a lot of stress in the streets. Wars, religious tension and the ongoing political conflict scare the tourists away.”
But Wittenberg was welcomed by the merchants after introducing himself as a Kiwi – (he has been a New Zealander since arriving in 2001). He chose to present the prints in monochrome to eliminate distracting colours and help focus the viewer’s attention on the people, their body language and their expression.
Wittenberg has only been in the photography industry since 2011, but has already won both coveted national and international awards.
Faces of Jerusalem
Beggars and scholars, slaves and warriors have all walked the narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem.
In early 2015, Auckland Photographer of the Year Ilan Wittenberg set out to capture the stoic nature of its inhabitants.
The result is a compelling collection of portraits – ‘Faces of Jerusalem’.
This unique documentary portfolio offers a journey to the Old City through its people – their proud portraits reflect the rich culture and turbulent history of Jerusalem.
ILAN WITTENBERG: FACES OF JERUSALEM
The turbulent politics affecting prominent cities like Jerusalem can often have depersonalising effects, whereby the people who live there become secondary to the tug of war over the spaces they occupy. In this series of photographs, Ilan Wittenberg provides us with a rehumanised look at the Old City of Jerusalem, which occupies less than one square kilometer. The images feature proud merchants from across all four quadrants of the Old City: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Christian Quarter. Together, they offer a portrait of the city as one occupied by real people eking out a living from day-to-day transactions in places densely packed with culture and history.
Wittenberg was awarded the title of 2015 Auckland Photographer of the Year by the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography for this body of work.
20 February – 1 May 2016