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Flashes of Greatness

Yisroel Besser

Shuki Lehrer is more than just the chareidi world’s most famous photographer. He’s the creator of an industry, the purveyor of images that travel the world over and back again, bringing succor to the masses. It’s a good thing he doesn’t take “no” for an answer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mishpacha photographer Ouria Tadmor keeps me company on the trip to Bnei Brak. On the drive, Ouria, in jeans, stocking cap pulled low, tells me about a recent assignment he gave his university students: a field trip to a dilapidated Tel Aviv neighborhood, where they walked the line of homeless people living in large cardboard boxes. Their mission was to speak to the destitute box-dwellers, somehow earn their friendship, and get an invitation inside. Then, the students — upscale, privileged youth from the other side of the tracks — would let their cameras tell the story: the people, their dreams, their reality. Ouria speaks of tonal range, scale, nuance, and detail. He’s been to Tokyo and Madrid, Paris and New York, in quest of art. He’s photographed the foam on a cup of coffee, the spoke of an umbrella on a rainy day. We’re going to visit Shuki Lehrer. If you’re being literal, you might say that he and Ouria both practice the art of photography, but that doesn’t really reflect the reality: Shuki has to work fast and tough, while Ouria has the luxury of tranquil deliberation. Rather than good lighting, Shuki relies on good elbows and good connections. So I am surprised when, on the drive back to Jerusalem, Ouria comments that he’s jealous of Shuki’s gift. Seriously? “Yes. His timing. And more than anything else, that’s the secret of a good picture. You can’t rush it, and you can’t wait too long. His instincts are exceptional.” Shuki calls it siyata d’Shmaya; he’s been riding the wave since childhood.

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