Владимир Шрага, фотограф
July 2019
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Zulun is a Jewish grave-digger from Dushanbe (Tajikistan). His father was a grave-digger, as well as his grandfather, also grave-digger. Zulun spent his childhood at a Jewish cemetery, he spent his youth at a Jewish cemetery, and his golden age he also meets at the same Jewish cemetery.

He can easily tell a story of life and death of every Jew buried here.

As a watchman he gets a salary of ten dollars a month. He can feed himself only due to monthly food packages which he gets from JDC.
His apartment is so desolate and empty that he prefers to reside at work, sharing tiny cemetery watchman’s lodge with two other cemetery workers.

Amidst the emptiness and dirt of his apartment Zulun keeps antique grandfather’s prayer books, tallit, and traditional for Bokhara Jews quadrandular yarmulke. Another yarmulke he keeps in the pocket of his jeans: Zulun says he wakes up with it and goes asleep with it, always.

One Israeli healer adviced him to stop dealing with death, so now Zulun is in the middle of his last cemetery project: he is renovating the graves of his grandmother, grandfather and aunt.

He says: “If I’ll be short of money to finish with these graves I’ll sell my apartment but I’ll get this work done”.

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Ukraine, Kherson. 2013. Dima, client of JDC. He was a healthy kid until a routine immunization made him disabled at age of 3. Now he is 33 and he is bedridden

It couldn’t be just by chance that JDC has found me and I have found it, though at first glance it looked exactly as a chance. The story behind our connection is incrdeibly simple. Dalia Finkelstein, Beit Shemesh-based family photographer, was working at a JDC employee’s son’s Bar Mitzvah when she broke her leg and posted a message in a Family photographers group on Facebook asking someone to cover urgently for her. I offered my help and although she has found someone else for this, she had a chance to explore my work and to pronounce my name when this JDC employee asked her if she knows anyone who makes social photography. That’s how this long journey started. This was a proverbal single step of a thousand miles journey. To be more precise the journey is already some 9000 miles, and another 8000 miles will add to this amount in the nearest 3 weeks.

A year has passed since my first Joint photo trip to Georgia. I’ve been to 5 other countries since then, and each of these trips makes me a little bit closer to myself. The longest journey of our life brings us to ourselves if we try hard enough.

It was in 2005 when I first got excited by photojournalism while managing a publishing project for photojournalist Alexander Belenky. I believed that photojournalistic pictures matter. I believed they can make a difference. The years passed, billions of pictures were taken by thousands of talented and devoted photojournalists but it turned out that the wider this visual stream becomes the less becomes its impact.

Another happy chance led me in 2009 to finding a “Visionmongers” book by David duChemin amidst the huge heap of dust-covered books at “Piter” publishing house where I was working at that time. A review copy was ordered once from a Canadian publisher but the translation has never been published, and this copy shared the fate of hundreds of other books buried alive on editors’ shelves. I’ve found the book and I’ve read it, and I’ve discovered a whole world of humanitarian photography. In that world the pictures still make difference, even in our visually overflown days. The reason is simple: these photographs are produced for an audience that cares. The rest of the people just won’t ever get an access to these materials. Being able to concentrate on this specific audience a photographer can produce pictures that are capable of changing life of his subject. I think it’s the best a photographer or any other professional can ever do in his life, and that’s what makes me so excited about humanitarian and social photography.

Humanitarian photography resembles photojournalism in many aspects. It’s documentary. It’s story-telling. It shows emotions and ambience. But in many important aspects humanitarian pictures go beyond photojournalism. They are always aimed to impress, not to entertain. Their goal is to induce an action, not just to provide a constant visual feed to keep spectator’s eye busy. They create awareness of issues which probably won’t be covered in media, just because the audience that cares is much more narrow than the usual audience of any media.

In five days I leave to my next Joint photo trip. This time I’ll meet Jewry living in Kazakhstan and Tadjikisttan. I’ll meet people in need, and I know that their voice will be heard by people on the opposite corner of the globe who aim to fight poverty. My task is to show them the target.

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Welcome to the opening event tomorrow, 27 Jan, 7 pm, at derech Hebron, 12 (Jerusalem).
There will be some of my B&W works picturing talented children.


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The most discussed event of January 2013 in Jerusalem is two days of snow. They say it’s the largest snowfall in the area since 1950s.

Last year I’ve nearly killed my Nikon D700 under the wet snow, and the coverage of that day costed me $1000 of repairs. So, this time I went out with Nikon FM2. This is a hard-ass camera, and being accompanied by manual Nikkor 50/1.4 it becomes really unbeatable.
But the small idol of Jerusalem snow wanted from me at least symbolic sacrifice. This time he has taken from me only a heel of a tripod.

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Новый фотографический год обозначится февральской выставкой в галерее Skizze (Иерусалим).
Я буду показывать детей творящих. Музыкантов, танцоров.


Дети в момент творчества всерьез гениальны, всерьез открыты миру. Без всяких скидок на возраст.
Мне эта тема визуально безумно интересна, я при каждом удобном случае снимаю детей, занимающихся творчеством.

Я ищу возможности для таких съемок, и если у вас есть идеи на этот счет, напишите мне, пожалуйста.

Если бы я был режиссером, мне хотелось бы быть Динарой Асановой.
Фотографы, равновеликие Асановой, мне пока не встречались, поэтому я, к счастью, не знаю, кому подражать.

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At the annual conference of Holocaust Survivors at Yad Vashem Memorial Complex.


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I proudly present the product of my collaboration with wonderful Marina Tsche. from our design bureau SlovoZaSlovo

2013 Calendar. &Sea.

The name leaves no doubts, the topic is marine. For many years I was looking at northern waters. I was thrilled and delighted, excited and comforted by the Sea. What always remained constant was a feeling of infinity. All these sensations I was trying to catch with a camera. This calendar shows 12 gradations of these feelings captured in Russia, Norway and Lithuania. Only 12 out of infinity.

I’ve done this calendar for those of you who feel something special towards the endless water of the North.


The calendar comes in two versions:

  • For Israel — weeks start on Sunday, Israeli holidays are marked;
  • For Russia and Europe — weeks start on Monday.

The calendar is A4-sized, has metal spiral binding with a hook for hanging.

I make limited number of copies.

The price I’ve set just to cover the expenses is 75 NIS/15 Euro/600 Roubles.

Worldwide delivery adds not more than 3 euro.

Please let me know how many copies you want, which version you need and what’s your postal address.

Contact me on this topic via photo@shraga.ru.

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Some time ago when I had a business coaching session led by Judy Feierstein, I’ve complained that I’ve got too much routine tasks which don’t let me focus on bigger issues. Judy smiled and commented: “Cannot work because busy working?” This one phrase gave me a lot. In fact, even when you need to resolve big issues, you make it by resolving a number of routine ones. They’re small and seem distracting but in the end you understand that without accomplishing them you wouldn’t ever get your bigger goal.

So, now without any complains, but I was really “busy working” last month. I didn’t have time to take a breath and tell something to you in my blog. Apologize for that but what I came to this moment with, can tell a lot:

  • I’ve got lovely son Mark! He’s 3 weeks by now.
  • Thanks to the financial help from the Ministry of Absorption and advices of Dan Davner, I’ve got Sony NEX-5N camera and started some experiments with video.
  • Thanks to generous photographer from Haifa Vitaly Kardashov, I’ve got EVERYTHING for manual photo printing and manual film developing. Everything but experience.
  • With help of our design bureau SlovoZaSlovo and personally designer Marina Tschernjawskaya, I’ve done a 2013 calendar with my marine landscapes. Northern marine landscapes, I must add. I’ll write a separate post about that.
  • As a photographer I took part in a great fundraising activity by Melabev called “Walkathon”. It was a night hike under a moonlight, with delicious landscapes all around and beautiful participants. I gonna tell about it a bit more later.
  • I’ve started 150-hours “Working Hebrew” course, and hopefully by the end of it I’ll feel myself much more comfortable speaking Hebrew with my clients.
  • I’ve added several new topics, going far beyond child photography, to my commercial portfolio. Ready to accept assignments.
  • Finally, with help of Sonya Tepikin we have done a useful Services & Pricing page at this web site, and made some other web improvements.

That’s what I’ve filled November with!

Follow me up, something great gonna happen here! :) Happy Hanukkah!

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I’m the only child of my parents and was always dreaming about a brother or a sister.

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Young Olims’ art exhibition has opened its doors yesterday at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI).

The exhibition is exploring the changes in creative vision influenced by aliyah.
There are 10 artists taking part in the exhibition. They are extremely different. You’ll find there colorful cubism and stained glass, wild punk style and extraordinary complicated judaica. What you will NOT find there is definitely glamour or amateur works.

As for my photographs, they are hanging on the opposite walls, one of which is “russian”, pre-aliyah wall, while the second one is “israeli”, post-aliyah.

There was a woman at the opening event who was very happy to buy two of my works — from the both walls. Maybe someone of you would also be happy to buy another one or two? :) Come and see.

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Tel: +972 54 483-93-34
E-mail: photo@shraga.ru