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Simplicity and Starkness: The Holy Lands in Black-and-White

March 15th, 2013 No Comments

Yesterday The Leica Camera Blog posted Aaron C. Greenman: A Candid View of the Holy Lands, Part 1.  The interview is short to non-existent but this post is worth visiting purely for the images.

Among the qualities of B&W that differentiate it from Colour are simplicity and, sometimes, starkness.  Much has been written about how and where the advantages of a kind of B&W can be leveraged.  Greenman’s Holy Land photographs shot in B&W demonstrate these advantages.  Perhaps it is because prayer, worship, ritual, especially in a centuries-old place such as Jerusalem, can be simple and stark at the same time, the qualities of B&W are a perfect match for the subject matter.

Leica’s post part 1 has only a small selection of images from Greenman’s In Focus: Holy Lands portfolio.

The attributes of the black-and-white medium are ideal for this image of white-clad women in church: there is a photojournalistic quality to the image while B&W accentuates the starkness and simplicity of the sober scene.  

Photojournalistic images abound: what is the news-story here – that’s one unwilling worshiper!  We do know what story there is here: humour!

Greenman’s gallery is also a virtual tour: we have seen countless photographs of worshipers at the Wailing Wall but how many show us what is tucked into the narrow bylanes of the ancient Walled City?  Here’s one such glimpse.  —And as for those countless photos of Wailing Wall worshipers like this one, for a change, Greenman provides this arresting composition.

This gallery does not concentrate on the Jewish people; as the photograph of the Christian worshipers may have indicated, Greenman takes a multi-religious, cosmopolitan approach towards a locale that is often considered primarily a Jewish religious experience, while also introducing a few tastes of the lay of the (holy) land.

As wonderful a document as this gallery is for its variety of captures, the finest are surely the sincere, superbly-composed, ‘fleeting moments’ such as the one of doorman and visitor or patriarch and worshiper, each one an exceptional documentary photograph.


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