From costumed revelers dancing through the streets of Jerusalem on Shushan Purim; to throngs of shoppers poring over the colorful wares in the open-air markets of Tel Aviv; to IDF soldiers, jeans-clad tourists, and black-hatted worshipers gathering together for prayer at the Kotel, scenes of daily life in Israel have long fascinated photographer Mason Resnick.
From thousands of images shot by the Highland Park resident on a weeks-long trip last winter, 70 appear in each of two e-books, “JLEM 18 1,” published on July 24, and “TLV 18 1,” released the month before. Both commemorate Israel’s 70th anniversary.
The pictures, said Resnick in a phone interview, “are really about people living their lives day to day. I love to capture these little unguarded moments when people are very natural, and I think that comes across in the pictures.”
The titles of the books come from the cities’ abbreviations on social media and the year the photos were taken. The letters that signify the number 18, Resnick pointed out, also spell the Hebrew word “chai,” or life.
Resnick said the photos he selected for the books show Israelis in ways not normally seen in the media, where they are usually shown “engaged in protests or confrontations.”
Resnick, the owner of Mason Resnick Photography, said last winter’s trip was his fifth to Israel, but it presented an opportunity his other visits there did not. His wife, Lori, a computer programmer for AT&T, works on Roku television devices. She was sent to Israel in March to collaborate with an Israeli Roku team at the AT&T facility in Airport City, a high-tech office complex just outside Ben-Gurion Airport.
With her airfare and hotel room covered — and since it was a slow time for Resnick’s business — he decided to tag along. He used the considerable alone time he had while his wife was working to wander through the two cities.
“It gave me the opportunity to do street photography,” said Resnick. “I do a lot of bar and bat mitzvahs and a lot of corporate and business events, but my main love as a photographer is candid photos of people in public places. I’ve been doing that for over 40 years.”
The timing was perfect, he said, for him to capture interesting street scenes, since he was in the capital for the Jerusalem Marathon and for Shushan Purim — the day after Purim on which Jerusalem celebrates the holiday because, like the Persian city in which the events Purim commemorates took place, it is a walled city.
Resnick said he delighted in observing the exuberant festivities of “Purim the day after Purim,” with throngs of people decked out in costumes — like Halloween, only bigger.
Standing near the finish line as 30,000 runners crossed during the marathon, Resnick said, he was surprised to see two “landsmen” from Highland Park running by: Jeremy Renna, president of his shul, Congregation Ahavas Achim; and Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, its religious leader emeritus.
“I came back that morning with 700 to 800 photos,” Resnick said, adding to the hundreds of others showing numerous other sites and sides of the cities, including the beach in Tel Aviv, the city’s “crowded and colorful” Carmel Market, and the daytime bustle and boisterous night life on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda and Tel Aviv’s Allenby streets.
The circumstances, for him as a photographer, were “wonderful,” said Resnick. “I’ve never had that kind of unstructured trip where I could just wander around Israel for hours.”
Resnick got his start in photography as a child when his Uncle Dave bought him a camera and let him use his darkroom; by age 10, he had his own darkroom. He later studied with the renowned Garry Winogrand, who, said Resnick, was “one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.”
The entire experience was gratifying, he said. “I love the process
The books, which cost $2.99 each, can be ordered at masonresnick.com.