Distinct Faces of Israel

An elderly man flashes a smile as he's greeted by friends at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel.

Several months ago I received an email that I typically tend to delete.  Often, my email inbox is bombarded with requests to help promote travel products, events and/or books.  Typically these emails are impersonal and not directed specifically at me.  I’ve learned to hit the delete button with zest in order to dwindle down my inbox to something sort of manageable.  Luckily, I decided to take a longer look at an email entitled Taste of Israel.

After months of correspondence, I found myself on a flight with El Al departing Hong Kong en route to Tel Aviv.  This would be my first time traveling to The Middle East.  I felt a jolt of adrenaline in my veins and a sense of excitement I had not experienced since my first backpacking trip.  The sense of uncertainty and unfamiliarity had my mind on edge – mostly in a positive manner.

My four day tour around the country with Taste of Israel was nothing short of splendid.  I feasted like a King.  I was exposed to diverse range of culinary wonders that tickled my every taste bud; however, just as important, I got to witness with my own two eyes the diversity in cultures, religion and people that make up present day Israel.  As much as my taste buds were constantly being dazzled, I felt as though my experiences on ground level were just as important.

The following is a photo essay entitled ‘Distinct Faces of Israel’

This lovely Druze lady prepared a wonderful feast for us.  The dishes kept coming out and even though we were all full we still had room for dessert.

This lovely Druze lady prepared a wonderful feast for us. The dishes kept coming out and even though we were all full we still had room for dessert.

This is a candid portrait of a lady enjoying Shakshouka (eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions) for breakfast in Jaffa, Israel.

This is a candid portrait of a lady enjoying Shakshouka (eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions) for breakfast in Jaffa, Israel.

This lady wearing a hijab was selling sweets and other pastries at a popular local shop in Jaffa, Israel.

This lady wearing a hijab was selling sweets and other pastries at a popular local shop in Jaffa, Israel.

Grinning from ear to ear with Uzi-Eli, the E-Trog Man, at Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel.  I'll be writing more about him in an upcoming post!

Grinning from ear to ear with Uzi-Eli, the E-Trog Man, at Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel. I’ll be writing more about him in an upcoming post!

This animated man let us into his bakery and showed us how he skillfully prepares bread.

This animated man let us into his bakery and showed us how he skillfully prepares bread.

An elderly man with a distinct face and cane sits down in the shade in Old Jerusalem, Israel.

An elderly man with a distinct face and cane sits down in the shade in Old Jerusalem, Israel.

A tourists snaps a photo cellphone camera in one of the busiest areas of Old Jerusalem, Israel.

A tourists snaps a photo cellphone camera in one of the busiest areas of Old Jerusalem, Israel.

An elderly man with a beard and glasses wanders nearby Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel.

An elderly man with a beard and glasses wanders nearby Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, Israel.

A man wearing a poorboy hat with a distinct face.

A man wearing a poorboy hat with a distinct face.” alt=”A man wearing a poorboy hat with a distinct face.

A group of young Israeli soldiers sit down and play with their cellphones prior to a special ceremony taking place in Old Jerusalem, Israel.

A group of young Israeli soldiers sit down and play with their cellphones prior to a special ceremony taking place in Old Jerusalem, Israel.

A candid shot of two men having a conversation at a local stall at the Mahane Yehuda Market located in Jerusalem, Israel.

A candid shot of two men having a conversation at a local stall at the Mahane Yehuda Market located in Jerusalem, Israel.

A candid portrait of a man sitting down outside a basket shop.

A candid portrait of a man sitting down outside a basket shop.

An elderly man wearing a poorboy style hat wanders down the streets of Jerusalem, Israel.

An elderly man wearing a poorboy style hat wanders down the streets of Jerusalem, Israel.

A young child and a group of teenage boys enjoy playing a game and sharing a laugh.

A young child and a group of teenage boys enjoy playing a game and sharing a laugh.

A candid shot of Amir, our instructor at Dan Gourmet Cooking School in Tel Aviv, Israel.  We learned how to make Lahmacun.

A candid shot of Amir, our instructor at Dan Gourmet Cooking School in Tel Aviv, Israel. We learned how to make Lahmacun.

A group of young Israeli soldiers relax in the shade and enjoy refreshments nearby the Flea Market in Jaffa, Israel.

A group of young Israeli soldiers relax in the shade and enjoy refreshments nearby the Flea Market in Jaffa, Israel.

A Druze elderly lady, wearing traditional attire, walks down the street in Haifa, Israel.

A Druze elderly lady, wearing traditional attire, walks down the street in Haifa, Israel.

A group of elderly men sit together on a park bench.

A group of elderly men sit together on a park bench.

A profile shot of a man who is scratching his chin.

A profile shot of a man who is scratching his chin.

A local baker at Mahane Yehuda Market tends to his pastries that are on display.

A local baker at Mahane Yehuda Market tends to his pastries that are on display.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria October 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

Incredible portraits Sam. I feel as though I walked those streets with you.
“An elderly man with a beard and glasses wanders nearby Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem” is a favorite.

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Samuel Jeffery November 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Thank you Maria! That’s one of my favorite shots as well :)

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Peter Lee October 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Good clicks from street of Israel. I am happy that you read full “Taste of Israel” email and result comes as this nice post. Thinking to try to make Shakshouka in tomorrow’s breakfast :P.
Enjoyed your clicks a lot. Now looking for more information on street life. :)

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Samuel Jeffery November 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

That’s a great idea Peter! It’s such a delicious breakfast :)

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ken murika October 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Israel is a country with rich history, its one of the places I would like to visit, thanks for the picturework, they have stirred the longing to visit there soon

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Samuel Jeffery November 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Thanks Ken! I sure hope you get to visit soon :)

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Heather October 23, 2013 at 1:47 am

These are great, Samuel! I especially love the first photo of the young soldiers. The girl’s bright pink phone is at such odds with their machine guns.

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Samuel Jeffery November 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Thanks Heather! That is quite an interesting contrast! Most shots I took of soldiers were moments when they were text messaging. I think they didn’t even notice ;)

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Mary @ Green Global travel October 23, 2013 at 5:28 am

Such a beautiful photo essay! Everything that I have met who hails from Israel has been amazing! It sounds like an extraordinary trip and I will look forward to reaching more!

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Samuel Jeffery November 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Thanks Mary! We were blown away by the generosity and hospitality of the people. We’re lucky to be heading back again soon in a couple of weeks :)

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Michael Ten October 23, 2013 at 6:49 am

Great post, Sam. Wonderful and beautiful pictures!

I want to visit Israel someday.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 10:55 am

Thank you Michael!

I’m glad you enjoyed them :)

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Chris October 23, 2013 at 10:54 am

Great shots mate, Israel is one of my favourite countries so have been jealous of your time there.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks Mate!

I hope you’ll get a chance to come back again soon. We’re really keen on doing more exploring in the Middle East – hopefully next spring!

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Lillie - @WorldLillie October 23, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Wowza… So when is National Geographic going to hire you??? These are amazing.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

Thanks Lillie!

I’m hoping soon!!! LOL Just kidding ;)

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Seattle Dredge October 24, 2013 at 12:26 am

Great shots, I love the soldier ones. I was always too nervous to take their photos, haha.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

Thanks Seattle,

I did feel nervous as well. Luckily, they never noticed me because I was shooting discretely in live view :)

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Jessica October 24, 2013 at 11:26 am

Beautiful photos! There’s definitely something about portraits that captures the feeling of a country so much more than landscape photos ever do.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

Thanks Jessica,

I agree with you. I try to focus more on people shots than anything else :)

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Lunaguava October 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Great portraits of Israeli life, kudos! Have to get my ass to Israel at some point – thanks for reminding me :) Safe travels!

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

Thanks!

Best wishes arriving sooner rather than later :)

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Christopher October 25, 2013 at 5:45 am

Incredible photos. This looks–literally–as if it was such a rich journey.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 11:39 am

Thank you Christopher!

It was a wonderful trip :)

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Carmen October 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Great photos! You can really get a feel for a country by looking at its people

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

Thanks Carmen,

I agree with you totally :)

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William Myers October 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Fantastic! I did something similar to that a few years ago in Istanbul, it was revealing and surprising at the same time. Untill you walk around and take such picture you can’t really say you know the place. Great job, cheers!

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 11:42 am

Thanks William,

I agree with you. Random wandering is my favorite way to explore a place.

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Jessica October 29, 2013 at 2:31 am

These are some amazing shots, really incredible! I had been toying with the idea of doing some land traveling to Israel while wintering my boat in Turkey next year, but after seeing the beauty there in your photos, I think it will definitely make my list of things to do.

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Samuel Jeffery November 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

Thanks Jessica,

That’s great it is now a priority! I highly recommend going to Israel :)

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Sally November 1, 2013 at 5:55 am

Awesome pictures, especially the old man yawning in the background of the bench shot haha. And “Taste of Israel” did a good job picking you, because I’d love to go to Israel right now! :)

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Samuel Jeffery November 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thanks Sally!

I was really fortunate to have been chosen for such a cool project :)

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Ivana November 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Nice captures, indeed. Not only portraits, but also those of action. I am happy you show the Middle East and its beauty as you did, Samuel.

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Samuel Jeffery November 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

Thanks Ivana!

I tried to show a cross-section of different photos :)

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Gianni November 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

Excellent portraits Samuel. Very inspirational. Definitely a great selection of different types. Thank you for sharing.

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Samuel Jeffery November 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

Thanks Gianni!

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William Myers November 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Hello again! I just checked the link to “Taste of Israel”, thanks for sharing that link!

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Samuel Jeffery November 13, 2013 at 8:08 am

You’re most welcome!

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Arti November 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

All those faces have so many stories to narrate. What a wonderful photo essay, loads of candid moments captured! This is a sweet post Sam :)

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Samuel Jeffery November 13, 2013 at 8:05 am

Thanks Arti!

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Nick - Goats On The Road November 14, 2013 at 10:09 am

Wow, Awesome shots Sam. Love the people pics, we will miss the big zoom on our Lumix when we move on to full-frame DSLR.
The one of the sweet selling lady in B&W and the young soldiers are my faves. Do the soldiers let you take photos of them in Isreal? We’d probably have our camera confiscated here in Iran!

Also, I know you said this somewhere on your blog before, but what kind of camera are you using?
Thanks for sharing.

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Samuel Jeffery November 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

Thanks Nick!

The young soldiers didn’t even notice. I was creeping…haha

I’m using a Sony Alpha A77 DSLR with an 18-250 mm lens.

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lily December 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm

is Israel eastern part is peaceful and can we visit there on border area

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Adam December 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Nice photo essay — I always loved the diversity of Jerusalem

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Alex-Wanderlust Marriage December 29, 2013 at 2:06 am

Some fantastic shots here! Great post that captures much of everyday street life in Israel. That country has such an amazing dynamic, my wife and I hope to get over there one day soon, and this post is more inspiration to do so :)

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