Before I start talking on my street photography experience in Acre, let me clarify that I wasn’t planning on doing a street photography shoot at Acre, certainly not as part of our family annual vacation with Moran and the kids, and not with all the gear that I was howling . As it happens often than not, the weather navigated our trip location selection, and Acre seemed like a good choice in light of a massive storm front that was approaching the whole coast of Israel. At the end of the day, it was a blessing, and I sure need to get back there with more time to spend solely on street photography. Basically, I have different equipment setups to travel photography and street photography. For travel photography it comprises of two DSLR bodies mounted with 17-40 and 24-105 L lenses coupled with the compact 24 mm IS fixed focal length wide angle lens, while for street photography it comprise of a compact DSLR mounted with the 24 mm lens. Even though I could emulate the ~38 mm focal length due to the crop POV with the 20D, Having the zoom lens lended me the chance to capture street photography with the ultrawide zoom.
Acre? Never heard about it
Well, Acre or Akko, is an Israeli small sized city located at the northern part of the Mediterranean sea, some 114 km northern from Tel aviv as the car drives – see for yourself, courtesy of Google Maps:
This city has some rich history – over 3000 years of habitation, conquest, and what not. Alexander the great conquered it (its name changed to Antiochia Ptolemais), Cleopatra done the same, and so forth came the crusaders, the mamluks, then followed by the Ottoman period, the city and its natural port changed hands multiple times. All that conquest has not demolished the city to the grounds as it was for all this time a major center of commerce nestling on the ancient coastal road connecting Egypt and Turkey whilst connecting the Mediterranean sea to the eastern countries via Damascus. With so many cultures passing through, and religions too, Acre is a religious center for 5 religions which affects the demographic composition of it habitants even to this day (which guarantees great photo-ops).
What’s so special about street photography in Acre?
There are several reasons why Acre is a great place to take street photos.
- The city is combined of modern and old buildings – the ancient quarter is located around the natural port area and which originally had a thick wall. it gives the city a lot of character and romantic atmosphere.
- This city is packed with tourists (foreign and local Israelis) making the appearance of a photographer a common reality in the life of the commons there. This makes for less challenging stares and a bit more indifferent attitude taking photos of strangers on the street.
- The main ancient city and the sea serve for a splendid backdrop for street events to be photographed.
- The area of the ancient city is relatively small and comprise of everyday businesses as well as the old market, thus offering many opportunities to capture street events while maintaining densely areas of people walking around and many interactions.
For my own experience, I had a hard time not to look at every angle of the city for moments that can make the heart of every street photography jump in joy while composing through the viewfinder/screen. However, being on a family vacation, I had to give attention to my love ones, and I missed quite a lot of potential captures not to mention the potential to stand at a corner and snapping away as time and people rushed by. Definitely will be back, Acre…
One last comment in regard to street offensive. I had very few encounters on the Israeli street in which someone told me I should stop taking their or other’s photograph (happened twice in malls by security guards). It happened also in Acre.
I was strolling along the wall on its inner perimeter when I spotted a beautiful spread of laundry, colorful and pure white on the either side of an open door of a two floor house. While I was pondering how to capture that sweet scene (and taking a step or two back to squeeze the building in), a lady in the house spotted me raising the camera and shouted not to photograph. A bit surprised, I lowered the camera and smiled, a bit annoyed for missing this scene but accepting her right over photographing her property. No sooner my camera was down, and her comments/rhetorical questions were shot into the air while retaining a similar annoyed theme along the line of “Don’t understand why everyone is photographing my laundry” and “people are so rude to photography my laundry”. Even as we turned a corner, her faded rants kept on shooting up to the dark cloudy skies and I couldn’t but smile.