Caught on Film: Jill Schweber Documents a Modern Tel Aviv
Welcome to Lindsay’s first series. Here, we will ask some of our favourite photographers from around the world who are still working with film, about the cities they’ve intimately documented. To kick off the series, let us introduce you to Jill Schweber, a Canadian who recently returned home after a five year stint in Israel’s second largest city, Tel Aviv. We were instantly drawn to Jill’s vibrant photographs where a modern Tel Aviv pops against a landscape rich with history; the old and new contrasting at every corner. In what has become a technology hub, today the youth of Tel Aviv enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle along a sunny coastline, while the past attempts to stand strong in the walls of Bauhaus architecture, traditional bricks and mortar stores and Jaffa’s ancient port city.
How long were you living in Tel Aviv for and what prompted the decision to move there?
I lived there for five years! There are so many reasons why I moved there. Let’s say the amazing weather, lifestyle, culture and people.
How would you describe Tel Aviv to someone who hasn’t been there?
Well, there are a few ways to describe Tel Aviv. Some can see it as a grim city where run down buildings have cables and wires dangerously hanging from every wall. Or you can see it as a beautiful sunny place with Bauhaus architecture, flowers and beautiful people.
What is the culture like? How is it different from other places you’ve been?
The culture is a beautiful mix between young hip Telavivians and characters from the “old country.” The young Telavivans are always out living and loving life to the fullest: coffee shops, restaurants and bars are always full no matter the time or day of the week. They are very social, artistic and friendly. Then there is the older generation who started the country from scratch and are very traditional. They’re always getting involved in other people’s business. It’s amazing.
When did you first start taking photos? Do you remember why?
In ninth grade I took my first photography class. Probably because my older sister did!
What camera and film do you shoot with?
Right now I’m shooting a lot with my Contax T2 and Hassleblad. I usually shoot with Kodak Portra 400 film.
What were your favourite things to photograph in Tel Aviv and why?
The people! Always. From my friends, to people on the beach, to the old shop keepers.
Why is photography important to you?
For me it’s a form of documentation above everything else.
Jill’s tour of Tel Aviv…
Your favourite neighbourhood:
South Tel Aviv—where I lived by the Levinsky Market. So many interesting things to see. It’s also close to anywhere you want to go: the beach, Jaffa [the ancient port city], Rothchild Boulevard.
Your favourite place to eat:
Very hard question. I’ll name two spots in Levinsky Market: Salimi, the Persian restaurant, and my favourite hummus spot is Garger HaZahav.
Your favourite place for a drink:
Port Said will always be my spot, although it’s gotten too busy and impossible to get a table. Otsar is right next door.
Your favourite thing to do in your free time:
I spent most of my time riding my bike and hitting the beach or sitting at my favourite coffee shop for hours.
Your favourite place to shop:
To be honest, I’m not the biggest shopper. But I do love what Ata is doing. They are bringing back a nostalgic kibbutz style.
This interview is part of an ongoing series, Caught on Film, where we speak to our favourite film photographers about the places they’ve intimately documented.
You can follow Jill on Instagram @jillschweber.
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Issue No. 1
In Issue No. 1 we meet Australian fashion icon Jenny Kee, translator from Italian Ann Goldstein and French-Cuban music duo Ibeyi. We learn about Ramadan, the Aboriginal ball game Marngrook, the Kiribati dance, the art of pickling, and the importance of home. And we see what it’s like to dress up in Myanmar, live in Cuernavaca, make ceramics from different soil, and walk the streets of Florence.
Issue No. 2
In Issue No. 2 we meet New York-based Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson, and Croatian painter Stipe Nobilo. We discover how the French protect their language and the way women—all around the world—have used textiles as their political voice. We listen to lovers rock, prepare a boisterous Korean barbecue, venture to go to Feria de Jerez and eat our way around Hong Kong.
Issue No. 4
In Issue No. 4 we meet Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, Indigenous Australian Elders Uncle Bob Smith and Aunty Caroline Bradshaw, and Palestinian-American chef and artist Amanny Ahmad. We peer inside the Parisian ateliers Lesage and Lemarié, muse over the iconic lines of European chair design and celebrate the colourful woodblock prints of Japanese artist Awazu Kiyoshi. And we venture along Morocco’s Honey Highway, get lost in the markets of Oaxaca and discover the favours of Ghana.
Issue No. 5
In Issue No. 5 we travel to the mountains with Etel Adnan, along coastlines wherever waves roll in, and then all over the world through the photographic archive of Lindsay James Stanger. We celebrate hair braiding in South Africa, Salasacan weaving techniques in Ecuador, Vedic jewellery traditions and the new sound of Ukraine. We meet artist Cassi Namoda, choreographer Yang Liping and lace-maker Mark Klauber. And we visit a bakery in Tel Aviv, discover the joys of making arak, and spend a summer stretching mozzarella in Italy.