Clear words and sharp meaningful thoughts on the lines of street photography and the art of making it. Ilana Ben is from Israel who is a very mature and intelligent street photographer who creates images with a difference. Looking at his portfolio, one feels how essential patience and a thoughtful approach are towards the likes of making a classy surprising picture. To create something meaningful and narrative amidst the chaos on streets is no easy task but Ilan masters that, please take a look.
Hi Ilan, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m Ben Yehuda Ilan i am living in Ramat Gan in Israel. I was born in 1960 and works as a graphic designer for the fashion industry. I studied photography at Camera Obscura, Tel Aviv. I also have a degree in philosophy from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The last five years, i am devoting much of my time to street photography.
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
I’ve always been attracted by photography. From my youngest age. I’ve always loved to look at images in magazines and books. I tried to guess where the photograph had been taken and imagine the story it was telling. Just as I still do today. I guess it was easier than reading books and articles or maybe I have a more visual sensibility. Over time i developed a strong interest in photography. I studied the work of old masters and Israeli newspaper photographers. The work of Alex Levac had a strong impact on me and it spurred me to go into this kind of photography. From this point, I began to learn film photography in camera obscura Tel aviv.
What makes Street Photography so special for you?
Street photography plays a major role in my life. It’s a main driver that contributes to my personal fulfillment and happiness but above all it gives me freedom. Freedom of speech. It has become my way to express my vision, thoughts and feelings about the world and people living around me. The core subject of most of my photographs deals with society, humanity, urban life…My photographs are now a way to share with people, to express my reactions, feelings, as well as my point of view to scenes and situations I come across. At the moment, when taking a photograph and after i shared it.
For Ilan, what does it take to make a good photograph?
First of all you need passion. Street photography is very demanding. It requires a hard work and steadiness. You need to spend a lot of time in the street to know the places and the people you cross and it takes a long time before you can find and develop your own personal subjects, style and language. You also need to control your camera technically of course. A good photo is one in which you can recognize your finger print in it and it only happens after really hard work.
What do you think of B&W versus Color with street photography?
There is room for both. Some photos work well in b&w while others are better in color. I usually prefer B & W because it gives the pure scene. Also the people become more expressive. But there are kind of photos that work better in color. When there color combination is important for the scene and gives an extra meaning.
Can you please choose one picture from your portfolio and share the story behind the making?
I select this photo because it’s reveal the street photography process and the surprise when you catch a good scene. I notice in the street man wearing a dog’s print jacket. I decided to follow him.. In my mind I was trying to connect the man with a dog.. Two minutes later came the chance.. I never thought such a scene in which the dog looks at the coat in so curiously. For me it’s was a big surprise. You predict that something is going to happen and it’s happened but beyond your imagination.
Your favorite photographers?
The first is Martin Parr.. I like his technique and the social criticism, humor and irony. I am also very fond of Diane Arbus love the portraits of freaks, the twins and the technique of using ash.
Photography that hits you in the belly. Another favorite of mine photographer is Garry Winogrand. Garry’s street photography has a great influence on me. I am Very fond of his book “The Animals”. Love the way which the animals appears in his photos like human and the people look ridiculous.
Your favorite photography book?
My favorite book is the photography of Robert Frank “The Americans”. I like the compositions, interesting crops, tones of b&w and his preoccupation with the American culture and a icons.
Your favorite photography quote?
The quote i love about photography is one of Martin Parr.. “Find the extraordinary in the ordinary“. Those simple words describe the essence of street photography for me. There is no need to go far away to make amazing shots. The most extraordinary lies in front of us in our everyday life. By this I mean that every photographer has to watch and capture of life around him. Simply go around the corner and try to make sense of what is happening and reveal things.
What camera do you use the majority of the time?
I am using Nikon D610 .. it’s a fine full frame camera and not so expensive.. i usually shoot in street in 24 mm. Wish to move to mirrorless full frame.
Any tips for aspiring street photographers out there?
Here are the few tips I can give to street photographers:
- Look for the most interesting rather than the most beautiful.
- Don’t look and wait for the perfect light composition in search of making a beautiful aesthetic picture. It’s not what street photography is about. Look for interesting, meaningful and significant situations instead. Look for oddness, surrealism or paradox.
- Try also to be less pictorial. Don’t overuse software processing adding too much effects which damages the photograph’s realism.
- Spend a lot of time at watching masters’ work, be it in galleries, books, or on the web rather than thinking about new equipment.
- In the end, the key thing for me is to spend a lot of time on the street and shoot a lot.
You can find Ilan Ben Yehuda on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Ilan Ben Yehuda. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.