I feel a bit over exposed in the short interview I did for Resource Magazine, Summer Issue. But then again, part of our job, as photographers, is to highlight and focus on one object while keeping other in the shadow. Same with our lives. There are matters we feel comfortable to share and talk about, and there are those we prefer not to discuss.
However, this is not the first time I am sharing my personal path and what led me to establish a new career for myself (divorce and lay off from work) and most likely, the second time I am sharing my story with Resource Magazine’s readers. The first time was on September 2012, being interviewed about my personal photography project ‘Intimacy under the Wires’. Take a look here.
But let me share some of my Q+A I did right after submitting the images to the Productions of the World; Paris. Here is my favorite part: The First and Last questions in the interview.
Q: What’s it like having your work published in publications like Travel+Leisure, Marie Claire Italia and Conde Nast Traveller?
Me: These are publications that I’ve always wanted to work for and I feel very proud. Now that I’ve been published, I need to pinch myself to remind myself it’s really happening. It feels good because people don’t know how hard it is to shoot. When you see the printed pictures it all looks so perfect and defined, but there are so many things that a photographer needs to do to get the shot. I always feel accomplished when I see the magazines.
Q: Now that you’ve become established in photography, what could you say your biggest obstacles are?
Me: When you go on a shoot you need to think ahead of time about what can go wrong, and when you work in a different country with different people, the obstacle is that you never know what they’re thinking. Sometimes I’ll construct a shoot in my mind and people don’t see it the same way as I do- but this is all part of the job!
Here is the full article.
For the third time (and hopefully not the last) I am honored to contribute to the series ‘Productions of the World’ in the Photography Trade magazine Resource Magazine. In the previous articles I wrote about Tel Aviv and Lisbon, and this time it is all about Paris, one of my favorite cities to photograph and visit. I was happy to get an email from Aurelie, the Editor of Resource, who has asked me to share some of my Paris’ pictures. I couldn’t have asked for a better compliment, coming from a native Parisian like Aurelie.
If you are a photographer who is interested to shoot in Paris or have any upcoming production or a shoot there, this article will definitely help you plan it. And if you are not a photographer but still, visiting the French capital, you will find some great tips and recommendations.
To read the full article, please click here.
Sweden was always related to me with ABBA songs and IKEA furniture. I used to look at it as a cold destination somewhere along the Baltic Sea, not necessarily a destination I was eager to visit. During a trip to Vietnam, I met with some travelers from Sweden who they kept telling me about the short Summers they have and how everybody is jumping into the ocean right when the temperatures went up.
So when the opportunity of visiting this area during the Summer time came up, I got used to the idea of visiting the Scandic side on the Globe.
I didn’t have lots of expectations or pre-knowledge about Stockholm, I was say, but it was just perfect. Sometimes I prefer it that way; be opened for surprises and experience the city first hand.
Stockholm is just beautiful! It is spread over a magnificent chain of 14 islands connected by bridges. No wonder it is named The Venice of Scandinavia. I love the color schemes of the buildings, brown-yellow -orange tone with greenish spires. Adding to this the Swedish Fika, (coffee break) and the cafes in every corner, to make Stockholm a city I can easily go back to.
Here is what you need to know about Stockholm in a nutshell and how to find your way around it;
* The first settlement was Gamla Stan, the Old Town, where a maze of cobbled stones alleys are lined with colorful baroque and medieval facades. * The island of Skeppsholmen has become associated with culture, thanks to the three large museums located there; The Moderna museet, the Arkitekturmuseet and the Ostasiatiska museet. * Djurgarden, a former royal hunting ground from the 17th century, now turned into Stockholmers’ favorite playground, where locals like to visit on the weekend. * The wealthy neighborhood of Ostermalm, with its elegant residential buildings and luxury boutiques and * Sodermalm, a formerly working-class neighborhood turned into a young, artistic suburb with trendy bars and restaurants.
And if you want the ‘short cut’, here are some of my personal recommendations;
What to do and see:
* Fotografiska: This contemporary photography museum is quite new (opened in 2010) and offers a showcase for both internationally renowned artists (such as Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle) and unknowns. The space itself is quite impressive as well. Located in a red-brick Art Nouveau building that used to be a former customs building. There is a great city view from the restaurant in the upper floor and a rich and diverse bookstore that doesn’t put to shame the one at ICP museum in New York. This museum is highly recommended and not only for photographers. (Sodermalm Island)
* Katarina Kirka: This is one of Stockholm’s three domed churches, named after Princess Catherine and is located in the Katarina-Sofia borough up the hill in Sodermalm. The original building was completed in 1695 but was burned down twice. The latest replica was completed in the 1990’s and it has the shape of a Greek cross and topped by a beautiful baroque dome. For me, it was the first time seeing a Scandinavian church. Most of the churches I came across before, were more on the dark side with minimum light. But Katarina Kirka’s inside area is all bright and light.
* If you already made your way up to Katarina Kirak, I highly recommend to pass through Katarinahissen, an elevator which connects Slussenområdet with Sodermalm area. The original elevator was driven by steam from its opening in 1883 until the mid 1910s, when it switched to electricity. In 1935 it was replaced by a more modern version, that is still in use today. I was not aware of the elevator, but I took the steep stairs up, just to see the magnificent views of Gamla Stan across the see.
* Rosendals Tradgard: This beautiful park in Djuragarden was originally created in 1817 as an English park style, called Rosendals (named after the roses grew in it), but now is a public experiment in organic food and flora-growing. I’ve been told that some of the city’s top chefs visit the area and buy their product here. I enjoyed walking in the greenhouse area and see variety of plants. Next to the greenery there is the Rosendals Tradgards Butiken and Plantboden which sells the garden’s jams, herbs and spices. I found it to be a perfect location for a weekend’s brunch as long as weather permits.
Djuragarden, as I mentioned before, is the backyard, playground of Stockholm. One of the locals Sunday rituals is to visit the Skansen museum or a scary ride at one of the Grona Lund attractions. But there are also beautiful villas around that island, which have been turned into magnificent art galleries. I really enjoyed walking around and along the water’s edge, exploring some of the wild beauty and peeping through some gates to see some of the villas back yards. One of the villas I have visited was Thielska Galleriet. I got there by chance. I didn’t even plan it, but it turned out that Thielska Galleriet is one of the finest Art museums in Sweden. The villa was built and designed for Ernest Thiel, who was a banker and an Art collector in the early 1900s.
An added value for this beautiful gallery is its cafe. When I got in to buy a delicious cake (just so I can nibble while I sit outside in the garden) I was welcomed by the beautiful Chef Monika Ahlberg, whose cooking books were decorating the cafe’s walls. Monika is not only a stunning woman, but also a talented chef, who has published few cooking books under her belt.
Where to shop:
There are so many H&M stores in Stockholm, it felt like the equivalent of Starbucks coffee in Manhattan. However, I was not after the fashion in Stockholm, but more after the design.
* Modernity: I have heard about this store through Travel+Leisure Decoder article about Stockholm. I was intrigued by the shelves that covered the entire wall with a great collection of ceramics housewares and vases. Not to mention the mix of retro furniture with a Nordic twist. The store keeper was so excited to hear that I followed the article (I brought the magazine with me) that she also gave me the address of Modernity’s warehouse, few streets down the road. Rest assured I went there right away.
* Svenskt Tenn: This store might be the mecca of design in Stockholm and the symbol of Swedish modern style. The brand was founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson, a jewelry maker, and designer Josef Frank. They wanted to create a brand where bold colors co-exist with simple clean lines. The store is located in Strandvägen 5, same address from 1927.
My favorite part of the brand is its textile and fabrics. Josef Frank designed more than 160 textile prints during his lifetime, several of which lives on as timeless classics. You can find these rich and colorful patterns in cushions, dining textile, kitchen textile, wallpapers, sofas, you name it. The store is beautifully curated with a great selection of glassware, lighting, furniture and textile. This is a must-stop in Stockholm.
If these two stores are not enough and you need an extra dose of Nordic design, then pay a visit to Nordiska Galleriet, an industrial- style space filled with all kinds of furniture and home accessories, by a wide collection of designers.
Where to stay:
While in Stockholm, I was very lucky to stay in a very central location, at the Scandic Grand Central, just across the street from the train station. The highlight of my visit was staying at the ‘Bloggers Inn’, a specially designed room for bloggers (or social media peeps) which includes most of what a blogger might need: Make it an iPad, a laptop, a camera, a tripod and wifi loudspeakers.
I have heard about the Bloggers Inn from Judith, a colleague, a friend and a blogger, who stayed there before.
I must admit I love this concept and the thought behind it; as the market needs are changing, the hotel is adjusting its standards accordingly. This is such a great initiative and I do hope this ‘Bloggers Inn’ concept will be spread out in more hotels across the Globe.
Another great thing about the Scandic Grand Central is its interaction with the street’s life. The doors are open to hotel guests and locals who enjoy an international atmosphere. There are acoustic concerts taking place and djs performances in the bar. Its sleek and chic design make this historic building (1885) to an up-to-date and leading hotel in the area.
* Hotel Skeppsholmen: This hotel (based on its name) is located on the island of Skeppsholmen. If I have to choose my favorite island in Stockholm, Skeppsholmen will be it.
What used to be a pair of a 17th century buildings, have now been transformed into an eco retreat hotel with great interior design. It is a mix of past and present which represents the ‘Urban Nature’ kind of hotel. Following the Swedish atmosphere, the hotel features pared down colors, raw wood and quite big bathrooms with unique Boffi basins. I love the dark color bathrooms in the hotel, a complete contrast to the rooms colors and shades.
Another recommended hotel (I wish I could photograph it) is Ett Hem. In English it means ‘Home’ and no wonder; It used to be a private residence built in 1910 in Ostermalm area. Now, it is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, with 12 different rooms and suits, with great Scandinavian furniture, mixed of modern and antique. It is a very ‘Home away from Home’ kind of hotel, where guests are treated as friends of the family and become part of it. You can have your breakfast any time of the day, read your newspaper at the greenery or grab one of the Art books from the owner’s collection and feel like you are at home.
I was well overwhelmed by its beauty, colors and attention to details. The owner has an amazing taste.
I could only wish to stay there.
There is so much of the buzz related to Denmark and Copenhagen regarding the Modern Danish Design. Denmark has been a leading nation in the design field for decades. Whether it is a Danish furniture to Danish fashion and Danish toys, Denmark is producing World renowned design classics, which are being distributed and copied worldwide. Starting in the 1950s with design legends such as Arne Jacobsen (mostly known for the ‘Egg’ chair) and Hans Wegner (known for the ‘Shell’ chair) the Danish design tradition has developed into a strong international brand. Scandinavian, and in particular Danish design has become synonymous with timeless style and no wonder Copenhagen is filled with stores of that kind, and I will mention some of the names and addresses at the bottom of this post. Here are some of the spots we visited and these are really just the tip of the iceberg in Copenhagen.
The Danish Design Center was different than what I had expected. Somewhat I thought I would find a large space which curates, shows and promotes the Danish design; a place that will play the role of a library or informational center, maybe even a museum of the history of the Danish design. Instead, I got into a nice and colorful cafe area, Design Society Cafe, where people can sit and work on their computers while the second floor is dedicated to some professionals whose goal is to promote the design activities in the intersection of design and innovation, in order to solve architectural problems. In other words, we didn’t see any kind of ‘design’ or furniture in the DDC, but we got to enjoy a nice coffee break in a very colorful space (see image on top).
Design Society, Andersens Boulevard, 27. Opening Hours: 9:00- 17:00 during weekdays. The Danish Design Center
The first time I came across the colorful furniture and accessories of Hay, was actually last year during a shoot I had in Ghent (Flanders) where I ran into a beautiful concept store called Ydee, with a vibrant window-display . I had a nice conversation with the store owner who explained to me the philosophy of Hay. I could easily buy half of the store back then but I was ‘saved’ by a limitation of space in my small luggage. (I wish I could tell the store manager to pack me a table to go. You know what I mean). Since then I started to notice some mentioning of Hay on some of my colleagues blogs and I knew that once I visit Copenhagen, I definitely need to visit their store.
Hay is considered the forefront of Denmark’s design renaissance. The Hay House, is located in an elegant 1896 Art Nouveau building in Østergade 61 and it is a colorful two-floors store packed with brands such as Vitra, Alessi, Komplot and Established and Sons as well as many smaller local brands. When we got to the store, it was quite packed with other curious people like me who walked around and were happy to take pictures.
Hay, Østergade 61 Copenhagen.
Are you in need for some fonts? Would you like to shop some? This tiny store in Værnedamsvej street is offering a very wide selection of fonts. In 2010, The Copenhagen design agency e-Types opened the world’s first physical font shop, serving as a material manifestation of the agency’s webpage. A few of my colleague bloggers recommended the place, which also sells posters, cups and T shirts, for the non graphic designers and/or the typographers among us. Those graphic designers and typographers will find a great interest on a Mac computer in the back, where they can search for fonts or buy one to take with them on a USB device. As this store is quite small, the easiest way to locate it in the city, is just across the street from Granola cafe. Check the opening hours in advance.
Playtype, Vaernedamsvej 6, Copenhagen, Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 12-18, Saturday: 11-15
More Stores and Addresses worth checking:
Norman: Located in a former cinema, this furniture store hosts the brand’s entire range of modern designs and also stocks larger pieces by companies such as New Danish Modern, Moooi and Established and Sons.
Designer Zoo: This is one of the most interesting places in Copenhagen to visit and witness how handicraft is being made. There are eight young in house designers with whom you can communicate and ask questions about their work flow, etc. From knitting, painting, metal work, glasswork or ceramics, the results are beautiful. The store was founded by Karsten Lauritsen, a furniture designer who was looking for a space to highlight these hand crafts from across Denmark in one place.
Royal Copenhagen: In case you are looking for a blue-blooded porcelain manufacturer (owned and run by the royal family from 1775 to 1868) then the Royal Copenhagen flagship in Amagertorv 6, is the place for you. Located in one of Copenhagen’s oldest renaissance buildings (dating back to 1616) the space is an integrated museum and shop, which stocks the brand’s entire collection, including the ‘Blue Fluted’ patterns that have graced Royal Copenhagen tableware since it was founded to modern collaborations.
Retrograd: For those of you who are after the Vintage, Retrograd keeps an impressive stock of vintage furnishings and household items from the 1950 and the 1960. It stocks everything from porcelain to tableware. The store was opened in 2003 first as a small basement store that soon got bigger. The store is considered a wonderland for any design collector, interior designer or anyone who loves to collect vintage items.
‘If you are visiting one museum in Copenhagen, than let it be Louisiana Museum’ one guy told me.
‘Each time I talk about Louisiana, I have goosebumps’ the sales lady told us with almost-tears in her eyes.
So we decided to go to Louisiana Museum.
‘But wait! If you are going to Louisiana, you should also visit the Maritime Museum…it’s on the same train line’ I got this precious tip from Signe, a local friend of mine.
Eventually, our last day in Copenhagen was dedicated to visit these two museums. If you end up doing so (Highly recommended) better get a daily train ticket from Copenhagen’s Central Station and use it to visit both museums; Louisiana museum is located 25 miles north of Copenhagen (35 minutes train ride and get off at Humlebaek station) and the Maritime museum is located in Helsingor (another 15 minutes train ride from Humlebaek)
Before I write in more details about these museums, I have a confession to make; I have seen a lot of museums in recent years; thanks to living in New York and for traveling to other countries. And I must admit that these two museums (mostly the Maritime one) have amazed me and are definitely a must-visit.
This beautiful museum is located in the middle of a green and picturesque grove on one side and with a panoramic view of the coastline on the other side. Opened in 1958, the museum has gone through seven expansions, conducted by the well known Danish architects Jorgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert, who wanted to keep the architecture and the structure of the museum connected to its surrounding. Having big windows in such a way to allow daylight come in and at the same time, not to damage the Art. The architect have created an outdoor sculpture park where the visitors are walking through glass passage, leading them into the other pavilions.
Beside the sculpture park and other permanent collections, the museum is hosting various artists as guest exhibitions. One of my favorite permanent exhibit was the Giacometti gallery (3rd image) a two-floors gallery with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the grove. I also enjoyed visiting the Children’s wing, which seemed to be popular not only among kids but also among their parents and grandparents, enriching them with various artistic activities.
Plan your visit around noon time and have your lunch outdoors (weather permits) to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the coast and of Sweden in the horizon.
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 11:00 – 22:00, Weekend: 11:00-18:00. Closed on Monday. Louisiana Museum.
So this museum was an amazing surprise. At least for me.
It started with its location in the city of Helsingor, known mostly for Kronborg castle, where Shakespeares’ play Hamlet is set, but also known as a city with great dockyards, where ships were built. The museum itself is built in an old dry dock between Kronborg castle and the Culture Yard, as an underground museum (it took me a while to find the entrance) designed by one of the most renowned international architect Bjarke Ingles.
The entering hall of the museum transfers you immediately to an almost-real experience of an underwater maritime world. A hall colored in a deep blue tone and a red big float in the center of it, makes you feel you are in the middle of the ocean, underwater. The museum pays a great tribute to the history of Denmark as one of the world’s leading shipping nations, the life of the mariners and their families as well as the shipping and the trade cultures Denmark is holding.
In addition to the experiential exhibitions, presented in a very engaging and evocative way, there is also a permanent exhibition highlighting the creation and the building process of the museum itself. I highly recommend to see all the steps and process to execute this kind of a museum. The architecture of the museum is quite impressive; built in a dry dock, the floors in the exhibition area slope downwards and the hallways are actually made as glass walls, guiding the visitors through a continuous flow of spaces connecting one dock to another.
Some might tend to see this museum mostly for kids but I do think it is one of the most well done and explanatory museum for the Maritime life. Don’t miss it.
Opening Hours: Open Daily 11:00-17:00. Closed on Monday. M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark
I am not sure what was the exact trigger that made me book a flight to Copenhagen (and soon Stockholm) a few days ago, but for sure, it was a good one. My original plan was to travel to Iceland. I found a good priced ticket but what I didn’t realize was the high cost of living and traveling there. The only way to enjoy Iceland is by driving around and I didn’t have the right partner for that, so I decided to ‘stay’ in the Scandinavian area and look for locations that would be easier to navigate. Since my mom wanted to visit Scandinavia for a while now, I have decided to take her both to Copenhagen and Stockholm, preferred during Summer time or before the weather will get too cold. At least for her.
I must admit that some people warned us that Copenhagen can be…well…quite boring or slow paced, especially for someone like me who is coming from New York. Indeed, Copenhagen is slow paced and very relaxed. It seems as though the Danes never get upset, but the city (especially during Summer time) is far from being boring. On the contrary; since the warm weather and the long day-light hours, the city is quite vibrant and alive.
Even though Copenhagen is considered one of Europe quieter capitals, the city is growing and becoming adventurous. A new wave of designers, architects and chefs has helped fuel Copenhagen’s revival. The New Nordic might be considered the cuisine of the moment, mostly thanks to Noma restaurant and the design scene is very much a source of inspiration and imitation around the world.
From the moment you arrive to the city to the time you leave, you will eat, shop, bike and sleep in style. Guaranteed.
Here is the first post in a series of some of my recommendations of places I have visited (some of them are not yet in travel books). The first post in the series is about the Food:
People fly to Copenhagen just to eat at Noma, which is considered one of the the best restaurant in the world , if not THE BEST. It is also the only place in the city to have two Michelin stars. So no doubt here it will be quite a challenge to have a reservation. Noma has pioneered what is called the ‘New Nordic Cuisine’ movement, promoting traditional styles of cooking while using fresh ingredients grown in Scandinavia. It was just a matter of time for similar restaurants to pop and succeed.
One of them is Höst
This restaurant is very much similar to Noma’s design, with the unpolished and bare concrete walls and floors, the raw wooden furniture, the wooden bars on the ceiling and the massive black industrial lights hanging from the ceiling. The color scheme is very Nordic; black and white, greys and raw wood. (Höst has already won three international design awards, including the award for the World’s Best-Designed Restaurant at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards).
The restaurant offers a fixed three-course menu that can be combined with a standard wine menu or pair with the upgraded selection of wines. There is also a small à la carte menu to choose from.
One thing is for sure though; You’d better have friends at Höst who can get you a table or you should book a table way in advance.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 17.30 – 24.00, Nørre Farimagsgade 41, 1364 Kbh.K firstname.lastname@example.org
Geist is one of those restaurants that you need to know where they are located, otherwise you might not be able to find them. Tucked in an inner courtyard, in what seems to be a residential/office building in Kongens Nytorv, I found Geist only because I was curious to find out what was in this courtyard. When I got in it was a bit before noon and the the crew was in the beginning of getting the restaurant ready for lunch. Geist has two areas provide distinct scenes. The less formal food bar features tall stools around the bar, whereas the dining room is more classic with tall columns and round tables. The menu is mostly based on meat and seafood and presents a 30-dish a la carte menu. Also here, better make reservations especially for dinner time.
Opening Hours: Every day: lunch 12.00 – 15.00, dinner 18.00 – 01.00, Kongens Nytorv 8, Geist
This might be one of the most popular, hype and trendy location for a suitable brunch in Copenhagen. Located in a tiny but stylish street in Frederiksberg, Granola offers great coffee, homemade cakes and breakfast made by fresh organic ingredients. When we got in, it seemed everyone was having a milkshake or a smoothie on the table and even though I am a coffee junkie, a friendly recommendation got me to have a fruity milkshake. My mom ordered a chocolate creme (they make it with nutella) and after tasting those, I understood why everyone had one.
The place has the touch of an American diner, both in some of the food and the interior (maybe that’s why it got its popularity from) although coming from NY, I would have preferred a Danish design.
Granola has become a popular place among the local crowd but also attracts tourists who get recommendations from (probably the) locals. For dinner, better make reservations in advance.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 7:00- 24:00, Weekend open at 9:00, Sunday closed at 16:00. Vaernedamsvej 5, Frederiksberg, Granola
This cute place got to be my neighborhood’s morning cafe, where I stayed in Frederiksberg area in Copenhagen. I first saw it during my morning run along Gammel street. I liked the outdoor communal table, where locals parked their bikes and started to settled for their morning coffee. The interior is simple but stylish. One of the walls has an industrial look thanks to the metal boards and the hanging green lamps that serve as decoration. The wooden chairs with the big pillows add to a homey and cosy atmosphere, a feeling you get the moment you enter the cafe. Maybe because the owner is standing behind the counter, her daughter is helping to set up the tables and the owner’s mom is having her morning coffee there as well. Or maybe it is because of the delicate and colorful coffee mugs, the home made granola or the freshly baked banana bread.
All of the above make Cafe Ipsen & Co a great start for the day.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 8:00-18:00, Weekend: 9:00- 17:00, Gammel Kongevej 108, Frederiksberg. Ipsen & Co.
Torvehallerne Gourmet Market: Just a walking distance from Höst restaurant, coming out from Frederiksberg metro station, is a must visit market for anyone interested in the Danish gourmet food for a reasonable price. We actually found this market by chance when I was rushing to photograph Höst. When we came out of the Frederiksberg metro station, we saw lots of Danes dining outdoors, hanging out with friends, sitting around communal tables, benches or crowding around the Kava bar, holding a glass of wine. The market is a well lit glass with almost 80 enclosed aisles with various goods and foods; from fresh breads, French fromagerie, meat, fish, flowers, and sweets.
It is a very happening location especially during Summer time and it is a great alternative in case you didn’t make any dinner reservations for one of the fancy restaurants in town.
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday: 10:00- 19:00, Friday open till 20:00. Weekend: 10:00- 17:00. Frederiksborggade 21, Frederiksberg metro station. Torvehallerne
I think that most photographers, beside seeing their images in print and in Travel magazines, might feel very proud and accomplished when they see their own picture in the contributors’ page.
At least this is how I feel when I see my picture and my name. Especially when it has to do with World Top magazine such as Travel + Leisure.
In this coming July issue, I will have my Feasts of Tel Aviv food story published, but also a short interview with me about it. Needless to say it feels almost unreal and for me it is a dream comes true. If you can’t grab a copy at the nearest newsstand, here is the interview… right after this…
Restaurant you’ll go to again and again: I spend a lot of time in Tel Aviv, and lately, I find myself constantly returning to Cafe Nachmani. I love its artistic interior and atmospher – It makes me feel as I am back in New York.
You can’t call yourself a Tel Aviv foodie until…You’ve elbowed your way through the long lines at Abu Hassan, a hummus place in Jaffa.
Favorite Photo subject: Laundry. I’ve traveled to Naples, Italy and Menton, in the South of France just to shoot hanging laundry for my ongoing photography project ‘Intimacy Under the Wires’
Food you couldn’t live without: Dark Chocolate. I’d eat it at every meal.
Best dish while on assignment: Ricotta gnocchi on a bed of chard, mostly because chef Haim Cohen of Yaffo Tel Aviv cooked it for me himself.
“…From pickled mussels to sardines with shushka peppers to glazed pork belly, charred eggplant and much, much more…Tel Aviv may look like South Beach on the eastern Mediterranean, but the food is ‘influence-rich, ingredient-agnostic, and genre-busting’ …I am very honored to introduce my recent shoot for Travel + Leisure, July Issue: Welcome to The Feasts of Tel Aviv.
A few months ago I was contacted by the Photo Editor of Travel+Leisure, asking me if I was interested in shooting the Food Scene in Tel Aviv for an upcoming Summer issue. Of course I said Yes. Even though I am not a foodie, I LOVE photographing food and style some table scenes. My Food assignment started with an item about HaCarmel Market in April issue and continued with an exciting list of some of the busiest restaurants in Tel Aviv, run by some of the Top Chefs in the Israeli Culinary arena.
Restaurants such as Yaffo Tel Aviv by chef Haim Cohen, HaSalon and Port Said, run by chef Eyal Shani, Alma Lounge Bar, to chef Yonatan Roshfeld. In addition I had to photograph Gil Hovav, a well known food writer, TV host, book publisher and producer. I photographed Gil in HaCarmel Market and it was fun watching how he interacts with his fans and how people in the street stop him to acknowledge him.
If you wonder if I ate some of the food, the answer is No. Not really. I was so busy making sure I have the appropriate light or the appropriate lighting equipment and even making sure the chefs themselves feel comfortable and at ease, that I really could not sit down and relax at the end of the shoot. But nevertheless, the experience was AMAZING and I enjoyed every minute of it. At Yaffo Tel Aviv I peeped into the kitchen and saw how they make their own pasta. I also got some tips from chef Haim Cohen in case I visit Georgia. In HaSalon restaurant I ended up having a long conversation with Eyal Shani (even though I was quite nervous to photograph him) and in Port Said I had to be very fast and specific if I wanted to get that specific frame by my ‘hand models’ (I had only 30 minutes).
Every shooting assignment is a learning experience and teaches me something new. Beside the fact I get to know Tel Aviv MOSTLY from the shooting assignments I get, this Food Scene shoot taught me how to communicate with Top Master chefs (who have their reputation and ego) so I can get from them the shots and frames I want. It also taught me to plan my shoots ahead of time but also be open for changes on the set, and above all, it introduced me with some of the best food in Tel Aviv, I was not yet familiar with.
Here is the final result, the cooked dish. You can read more here, The Feasts of Tel Aviv.
But wait, there is more….
Apparently, the Photo Editor was so happy with the shoot, that she chose one of the Port Said Table Scene as an opener for the July section. I LOVE how this shot came out.
Don’t you just want to jump into the frame and eat what’s in it?
Since I first came across the NHOW Hotel in Berlin, designed by Karim Rashid, I keep looking for more hotels and projects he designs. I was lucky enough to meet Karim a few times in person; Twice in New York, (both in his old and new studios) and once in Tel Aviv, where he is currently designing a new hotel, planned to be opened in October. While I am hoping and planning to shoot the next hotel in Tel Aviv, I had the opportunity to stay it one of the first hotels he designed. The Semiramis Hotel located in one of the most affluent and leafy suburb in Athens, called Kifissia. I wish I had more time to stay in Kifissia and at Semiramis but I was on my way to Milos for a shoot. It is such a magical area that one of my close friends described it: ‘If I ever want to disappear for a little bit, I can easily go to Kifissia’.
I arrived at the hotel on a Sunday afternoon after a long flight from New York in which I didn’t really have the chance to sleep. Regardless, I was anxious to walk around the colorful hotel and discover some of Karim’s signature designs and style.
When the description of the hotel goes like this..“Semiramis is what happens when you give a hot designer total control”…I need to see it in my own eyes and cameras
So let’s start with the Pool:
As a long time swimmer, I do tend to check out the swimming pools first when I check in to hotels. Even though the Semiramis pool is not a lap one, it was quite hard to ignore it. The pool is shaped in a fluid curved shape, typical to Karim Rashid’s style and colored in shades of turquoise and neon green. To complement Karim chose white sun-beds with pinkish color umbrellas, dotted with white. To be honest, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this pool. I tried to cover every angle. A mosaic dark blue fountain adds a decadent touch and border between the pool area and the area around the hotel.
Only by seeing the colors of the Sun terraces (Lime Green) I knew I arrived at one of Karim’s playgrounds. The facade is totally different to the Greek typical style, and this is what I actually love about Karim’s style. His designs are ALWAYS extraordinary. To enter the lobby I had to walk through a glowing pink glass cube and to be warmly welcomed by one of the staff, offering me a glass of sparkling water.
The YES Lobby:
As Semiramis is part of the YES! Hotels group, the Artwork ‘YES’ by Tim Noble and Sue Webster is definitely a great visual welcoming sign. The affirmative “YE$” sign presents the familiar dollar symbol in a bright display of shimmering lights flickering on and off before the viewer. I enjoyed watching this sign when I got back to Semiramis after an evening stroll in Kifissia. On a bright Pink wall the Artwork ‘VBGDW’ by Vanessa Beecroft is also a welcoming gesture. ‘VBGDW’ is a photo of Vanessa Beecroft’s wedding party in Portofino in September 2000. (Rumors say she is divorced now). The dark blue Wavelength Sofas designed by Karim, gave me a feeling as being under waves in the ocean.
The Bar and Dining Area:
I just LOVE this bar and dining area. I felt as I was walking in one of the wings of a contemporary modern museum. And no wonder. Dakis Joannou, the hardworking owner of Yes! Hotels, is one of the foremost collectors of contemporary European art in Greece, and therefore is surrounding himself with objects that inspire him, from Art, Design and Architecture. I could spot two Artworks by Spencer Tunick, (The ‘New Vienna’ and ‘Krystl’) and the ‘Shutup’ Artwork by Michael Bevilacqua right above the seating area. On a Pink color carpet, Karim furnished the dining area with his signature Swing Chairs in addition to a lively lighting concept, especially commissioned from Focus Lighting in New York, under the direction of principal designer Paul Gregory. I love the Orange colored glass wall, which made a perfect dividing wall between the Bar and the Dining area. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really dine at Semiramis restaurant, as it was closed due to a private event. Well, it is a reason for me to go back…
Semiramis has three types of rooms; Standard rooms, 20 meters squared rooms overlooking the park of Kefalari. Queen bed and above bed- lighted murals offers a pop of color to the all-white feeling of tranquility of the room. The Superior rooms, 25 meters squared are overlooking either to the park or the great pool. (I was lucky enough to overlook the beautiful pool) and then there are The Pool Bungalows, 25 square meters, built as separate units alongside the pool and each bungalow has a King size bed and a private small garden. I have stayed in one of the Superiors rooms overlooking the pool. I loved having a great afternoon light reflecting and glittering on my lime green terrace and watching the sunset over the hills around Kifissia. The hotel has its own sense of humor, which reflects well in the design; The rooms, for instance, don’t have numbers, but every floor has a color and each room has an icon. To find my room, I had to spot the icon across the hallway. Instead of the typical boring ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs, hanging on the door knobs, Karim decided to place electronic message boards at every room entrance, which guests can personalize from their in-room keyboards.
I’m really looking forward to see the next hotel designed by Karim Rashid, Sir Benjamin Hotel, coming soon in Tel Aviv.
Like every year, around April or May, the travel magazine, Travel +Leisure is publishing an annual book about the World’s Greatest Hotels. I was thrilled to participate in last year’s 2013 edition and shoot the Efendi Hotel in Acre, Israel. This year, for the 2014 edition, I was asked to shoot one of my favorite and colorful hotels in Tel Aviv, Alma Boutique Hotel. I was very happy to discover that one of the images made it
To see more images and a previous post about Alma Hotel, please click here.
In case you don’t have a chance to get the World’s Greatest Hotels’ book, here is the text about Alma;
‘To see what really makes Tel Aviv tick, head to the White City UNESCO World Heritage site, where design and architecture take center stage. Smack in the middle of it all, the Alma Hotel & Lounge has become the discerning traveler’s hotel of choice. Siblings Adi and Irit Strauss have created a patchwork of bohemian luxury in 15 airy rooms inspired by the 1920’s, each with bijou stained-glass windows and handwoven carpets. Yonatan Roshfeld, the chef behind nearby tapas hot spot Ahad Ha’am, lures Israeli socialites and Russian businessmen to the hotel’s namesake restaurant with Moroccan small plates (beets-topped raw beef kibbeh in sheep’s milk; lamb encrusted with red pepper, roasted garlic, thyme and sage). The artful menu perfectly complements the decor, which is lifted straight out of Paris’s Marais district; a smattering of jewel-toned chairs, checkered floors, and edgy contemporary artwork”