Jerusalem, two young orthodox jews at the wailing wall
Jerusalem – Photo Tip

How to photograph the regulars at the Western Wall

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jerusalem – Photo Tip How to photograph the regulars at the Western Wall

In Jerusalem my challenge was to get permission to photograph the regulars at the Western Wall. Not an easy task for a man with a camera who could pass for just a tourist.

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

This is what I did. I started talking to a person likely to help, in this case an Israeli woman who was a visitor like me. I asked her to introduce me to an Israeli soldier, who introduced us to a religious Israeli soldier (photo below), who introduced me to the two Orthodox Jewish boys (photo above). It took a little bit of effort, but in the end I bridged the natural distance that exists between a guy with a camera and an orthodox jew in Jerusalem.

After that, taking the photos was the easy part, although it offered its own challenges. I am not a big fan of using a flash in documentary photography. It adds something unnatural, something artificial and can be a real turn-off, especially if done badly as often is the case.

However, when doing a series of portraits in bright sun, especially with a blue sky, a flash is often helpful. I under-expose the photo by a full stop, then I over-expose the flash by two-thirds or a full stop, thus creating far more contrast to help bring out the faces.

The individual portraits are often attractive and the series is tied together by using the same technique.

Explore the world with TRVL. Sign up free and earning a commission on every hotel booking you make

Armed guards patrol the area around the Western Wall, which is also sacred in Islamic tradition.

The wall is believed to be where Muhammad tethered his winged steed Buraq after a night journey from Mecca to the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, which is the third most holy site in Islam as well as the holiest site for Jews. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

The wall is believed to be where Muhammad tethered his winged steed Buraq after a night journey from Mecca to the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, which is the third most holy site in Islam as well as the holiest site for Jews.

Other stories about Jerusalem