BOZO Meets: Omri Shomer
We speak to Israel's Omri Shomer and get a glimpse into Israeli Street Photography life. Read all about it below and discover how capturing moments has had him enthralled since an early age. As always, don't forget to check out his other works and his Insta.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Omri Shomer, 34, married to Tamar and father to Noam, my young daughter. We live in a city called Ramat Ha’Sharon, located in the central district of Israel. I’m originally from a Moshav, which is a type of cooperative settlement we have here in Israel. I’ve been working as a copywriter and on my street photography in particular for the past seven years.
How is Israel at the moment?
Israel is a tough country, by which I mean that it’s difficult to manage here financially. The cost of living is rising despite the fact that salaries remain relatively low. People can’t afford to buy an apartment for themselves, to pay off their mortgage or even rent. At the same time, there’s no trust in the government due to the extensive amount of corruption cases that are surfacing. Senior officials are being investigated and sent to prison, and this is something that has become the norm. As such, Israel is a complicated place to be. However, for a street photographer such as myself, it’s a good place to get inspired at a provides me with the unique opportunity to show these absurdities in visual form.
You have a well-versed portfolio – when and why did you get into photography?
I’ve been a photographer since around the age of 13. It all began when my father bought me an 8mm camera – since then I never stopped documenting my surroundings, whether it was through filming videos or taking pictures. Over the past ten years, I began photographing situations with more self-awareness and thus added creative concepts and ideas to my photography. I think that the moment I realised that I was achieving something important through my photography was the moment when I managed to transcend reality by and isolating situations and telling my own story through a different lens.
In your series 'My Streets' you seem to portray a city soaked in apathy and at odds with growing globalism – is this a fair reading?
This series was shot in Tel Aviv, in different markets such as the Carmel Market and the Levinsky Market. This brings me back to the economic situation here in Israel. Currently people don’t know what tomorrow will bring, they are constantly on the move, a sort of rollercoaster going up and down between happiness and deep depression, between light and dark. Sometimes people on the streets of Israel look like zombies to me, walking from one place to another without any expression on their face, they're becoming faceless in a way. A sense of indifference is certainly part of the process. I believe that the situation is a global one – and if it’s indeed a global epidemic then those who view the series will be able to resonate with them as they will mirror their own personal surroundings. If i can achieve this emotional response and connection then I have succeeded in achieving what I set out to accomplish.
Who would you say has influenced you the most?
There are plenty of photographers who are an inspiration to me. First and foremost would be David Alan Harvey, who was my workshop instructor in London. He’s a true teacher to me, among the very best professionals, as well as a warm and intelligent person. I’ve learned a lot from him, and he’s also helped me select photos for different magazines around the world. Other photographers would include David Gibson, Matt Stuart, David Webb, Robert Frank, Robert Capa, William Klein, as well as street photographers in Israel such as Alex Levac, Felix Lupa, and Gabi Ben Avraham. I greatly appreciate the ways in which they look at reality and change it as they see fit. They are very comprehensive and constantly at odds with that which many of us would perceive as obvious and apparent.
What is your dream subject to photograph?
I think that a dream subject for me does not yet exist, and this is largely due to the fact that I never know what I’ll see and photograph when I’m on the street. That’s the beauty of it. Once I manage to see and catch the moment, it becomes mine. The moment disappears and I remain with a deep sense of curiosity, from which point on I immediately begin searching for the next moment.
Your ‘Break a Leg’ series features shots of peoples legs and feet – care to explain?
At age 26 I discovered that I have Gout, which is a chronic disease. My body is unable to break down certain ingredients within food such as meat or alcohol for instance, which results in inflammation of the joints, especially in the legs. Since then I’ve always been much more aware of my own legs as well as the legs of those around me.
Which of your photos mean the most to you?
I think that the photos that are dearest to my heart are those that succeed in eliciting an immediate reaction in those who view them, whether it be laughter, wonder, a debate of some sort, etc. Usually, these are the photos that play tricks on the mind and challenge reality. I call them the “What the fuck” (WTF) photos.
What advice would you give to photographers starting out?
Simply to go out to the street and expose themselves to as many situations as possible, do not to be afraid, and most importantly let your true self emerge. Bringing yourself into your photographs is no easy task and is something that takes a lot of courage.
What are your plans?
Currently, I’m lecturing in an advertising school in Tel Aviv about how street photography is a tool for inspiration within the advertising industry. I see something true in this connection, because in both of these processes – street photography and advertising – the search is for a story that is different to but present in reality.