Ronen Berka is a street photographer who is living between New York City and Tel Aviv, Israel. Ronen is also a member of famous street photography collective Observe.
In his words about passion for photography, “Photography becomes more and more meaningful to me over time. I appreciate every minute I have with the camera on the streets. The crises I had were, to my relief, very short. In my case – photography is first and foremost – my quality time with myself.”
Thanks, Ronen for accepting for our invite. Please read on.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Ronen Berka, a 46 years old Israeli, a father of 5 who’s spending his time between NYC and Tel Aviv.
What is your childhood memories towards the arts?
As a child, I remember myself mainly with a pencil in hand, scribbling and drawing a lot. It was only about six years ago that I began taking photographs seriously after I was exposed to the genre called “Street Photography.”
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
About 6 years ago, I first bought a camera, out of a clear desire to photograph outside the family circle. I lived in New York at the time, far from my family, and found myself wandering around the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn on weekends looking for different situations to delve into.
What makes street photography so special for you?
The concept of “street photography” is confusing because many give a different interpretation of the concept. I prefer to call it Candid Photography – where it is clear that the photographer had nothing to do with the event, except for the decision of the moment he or she chose to press the shutter.
When did you use Flash? Some of your photos are amazing with this technique. Few words about this?
I started shooting with Flash a few years ago, with the encouragement of another Israeli photographer – Barry Talis.
To be absolutely honest – the choice of flash changes from day to day, I do not limit myself to one technique or another but try to flow with the situations exposed. Usually, I will use flash in two situations – to display a certain grotesque or to isolate a specific object from the background – to highlight details or behavior.
You are a member of the Observe Collective. Few words about your Collective?
OBSERVE is based primarily on early acquaintance, meetings and in some cases friendships among members of the group.
The love for candid photography is, of course, common to all members of the group and the connection between members is done in open and closed forums on a daily basis.
The appreciation I have for all the members of OBSERVE as people and photographers is expressed in the will to receive feedback from them and to share with them various doubts and thoughts I have about aesthetics, etiquettes or other matters related to my photography.
You are living in New York. Could you please share your challenges and fun, while you capture in New York Streets.
I’m on the line between Tel Aviv and New York.
People react to the camera very differently between those cities.
The suspicion that local New Yorkers sometimes find about a camera is amusing. A suspicion that sometimes turns into dissatisfaction. I remember a situation couple of years ago in Manhattan, where I had to calm down a woman, accusing me for taking her photo with intention to photoshop her face onto a body of a porn actress… wild imagination…
Although I’m in New York quite a bit – I still feel like a tourist: Curiosity motivates me as well as the desire to discover new places and study them.
What do you think makes a memorable street photograph?
One thing: Does it moves you as a viewer or not.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
Entertainment in some cases. Surprise in other cases. Everything but apathy 🙂
What do you do to keep motivated, and not lose your passion for photography?
Photography becomes more and more meaningful to me over time. I appreciate every minute I have with the camera on the streets.
The crises I had were, to my relief, very short. In my case – photography is first and foremost – my quality time with myself.
What is the best compliment you received so far?
One of the first photographers I followed was David Gibson.
It was a great compliment when he invited a photo of to be included in a book he published: “100 Great Street Photographs”
Which photographers have inspired you?
Too many to count or mention. Just enter OBSERVE website to see some of the most inspiring!
What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
I currently use a Canon DSLR with a
Any favorite photography books?
My favorite books would be:
Thanks again for providing 121 Clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
As the late Steve Jobs said: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish” it pretty much sums it all.
You can find Ronen Berka on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Ronen Berka. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.
Some really great images here. I really like the complex layered shots. He also has a great eye for simple, humorous photos. Thanks for the great interview.