When it comes to cities, photographer Dina Litovsky likes them noisy and chaotic and overwhelming. “My photography focuses on people and street scenes,” she says. “Cities like Tokyo and Hanoi that are so busy and kaleidoscopic, that’s what I like. So when I found out I was going to Tel Aviv, I thought, this is a city where I can be myself.”
Her camera bag was packed. She added sunscreen. She didn’t plan much, but in the 24 hours before she left, she booked a guide and did a Google image search. “I wanted to have a picture of the city as it is right now,” she says. “In the photos, Tel Aviv looked really clean, with white Bauhaus buildings and people sitting in cafés. It looked like the French Riviera.”
Her five days in the city gave Litovsky a different impression. “I came to think of the city as this big flea market,” she says. “It’s claustrophobic and loud and fast and very, very colorful. It’s a mix of cultures and street smells and food.”
She spent most of her time tracking down Tel Aviv’s busiest pockets. “The city really transforms based on the time of day,” Litovsky says. “I would just ask my guide, ‘It’s noon, where are there going to be the most people?’”
This quest led her to the beaches that stretch north along Tel Aviv’s coastline. It took her to the Florentin neighborhood, where “there are cafés upon cafés with people eating and drinking” late into the night. She tagged along with soldiers on their lunch break and convinced a group of gruff men to let her photograph their sidewalk backgammon game.
As she walked and observed, cajoled and shot, she noticed something else.
“It’s a small city, but there are so many different people there—and they travel in groups. You have older men playing cards. You have younger hipsters in cafés. You’ll see orthodox Jews and religious Muslims, and right next to them a group of gay boys in briefs. It’s a little schizophrenic.”
One day, her guide explained that a tel in Hebrew is an archaeological site—a hill made up of layers of civilizations built on top of one another. “And I thought, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ That’s what I wanted to capture: layers of people with the city as the background. I used photography to make sense of the chaos.”
"The arts and crafts market at Nachlat Binyamin Square takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays of every week and is a busy, popular place with both tourists and locals. I wanted to shoot some people passing through and the father in cool-looking shades with a colorfully dressed baby caught my attention."
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