Here are the stars of this issue, the photographers whose contributions give the issue its sparkle. Their biographies are not found on the pages dedicated to their work since TWiP wanted to use all available space to showcase their creativity.
Born in Jerusalem, Ahed Izhiman found early inspiration in the beautiful and historic walls of the ancient city. With a background in portrait and documentary photography, and employing innovative art techniques and painting skills – obtained from both local and international accredited art institutions – Ahed has served local and international community organizations, institutions, and theaters, contributing also as a lighting designer, art lecturer, and photography and fine art professional. A co-founder of ArtLab, Ahed’s work explores and mixes painting and photography in unique and innovative ways.
Ahmed Refaat Hassan Ghaith was born in 1991 in Hebron, Palestine. He graduated with a degree in computer information systems from Al-Quds Open University in Hebron and is currently working in the field of electric cars and heavy equipment. He won the Best Picture Award at Al-Quds Open University and ranked sixth in the Jerusalem in Your Eyes competition in 2015.
Alaa Badarneh was born in Yabed, west of Jenin. He fell in love with photography during childhood, helping his father in the family studio. After working for various prestigious media, he became the staff photographer of the European Pressphoto Agency in Palestine. Alaa has won numerous international and Arab awards in press photography. In addition to arbitrating in photography competitions, he was chosen to be a representative of the Committee of Arab Photographers in the Union of Arab Photographers for Palestine. Alaa has taught journalism at Birzeit University and co-produced many special publications in Palestine.
Amani AlSharqawi is a computer science graduate whose passion for photography grew as an extension of her work with graphic design and out of her love for color and the visual arts. Amani started her artistic journey with photographic tours of Gaza, visiting archaeological sites, refugee camps, and popular markets with the aim of showcasing Gaza’s beautiful side to the world, rather than the stereotypical image as the country of war and destruction. For Amani, photography is a medium for self-expression, similar to writing and drawing.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Ashraf Dowani’s interest in photography/cinematography began in 2009 when he gained a bachelor’s degree in Jordan. He worked as a director of photography at Shashat Productions in Jordan in 2013, and on various TV productions, music videos, and TV commercials. In 2014, he returned to Palestine to work as a freelance filmmaker, and in late 2015, he established a production house called Manshour Productions in Ramallah. For more information, please visit www.manshour.ps.
Elias Halabi has forged a skillful lens for socio-cultural interpretation by obtaining a BA in sociology/psychology, and a professional diploma from Italy in the management and preservation of artistic cultural heritag. He developed his signature artistic voice with the realization that the language of images is more effective than speech. Elias has worked with various organizations, and his award-winning work has been exhibited in numerous solo and joint exhibitions in Palestine and internationally.
Emile Ashrawi was born in Jerusalem in 1951. Retired from work for the United Nations, he is now free to pursue his passion for photography and enjoy being a grandfather. Emile is a freelance photographer and photography educator; he has been engaged in community and cultural work throughout his life, particularly through music and theater. Among the main inspirations for his work are the beauty of the Palestinian landscape, flora, and fauna, and Palestine’s traditional and historic architecture.
Jack Rabah holds a BA in computer science from Earlham College (USA) and an MBA from Birzeit University, Palestine. He is the communications director at the Palestinian NGO Taawon. Jack enjoys photography, reading, cooking, and byzantine chanting. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Maysa Alshaer is a blogger, Instagramer, and founder of Kazdora w Sora (pleasant walks and images), a blog of photographic walking tours that visited cities throughout Palestine. After ten years of photographing and documenting cities in Palestine, Maysa, together with a group of photography enthusiasts, presented her own photo exhibition, Ana aind alshobak (me at the window), which displayed images of cities and offered her reflections on these cities. Maysa is known for Instagram stories of ancient places and buildings that she publishes under the name mesography. In 2017, Maysa and her team created the first photo festival in Palestine.
Mohamed Badarne is a Palestinian freelance photographer who resides in Haifa and Berlin, and works mostly for the United Nations and in private projects. His work presents visual stories about people’s concerns and the details of their lives. Mohamed offers training workshops in Palestine and abroad, using photography as a tool for societal change and for highlighting human rights issues. His works have been displayed at the United Nations in Geneva and New York, among other places, and purchased by institutions such as Darat El Funoun in Amman, the ILO, and other art centers.
Motaz Alaaraj is from Gaza and embarked on the pursuit of photography in 2010. Largely self-taught (he considers photography an addiction), he has worked with numerous local and international organizations. He has used the time-lapse technique and was among the first to use hyperlapse in Gaza. His work was exhibited in France, though he was not present, given that he was unable to leave Gaza. Since late 2013, Alaaraj has focused on filmmaking and teaching himself all aspects of video production through online tutorials and hands-on experience.
Muayad Reehan lives in Tell, a village near Nablus, and works in commerce and trade. He has pursued photography as a hobby for the past five years and posts his work on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. His aim is to showcase Palestine to the world: “I want people to see my homeland the way we see it, to recognize how beautiful it is.”
Born in Jerusalem, Nabil Darwish is a visual storyteller and a commercial arts photographer with a prime focus on portraits. Nabil also works as a marketing-communications and branding specialist, and is a certified Adobe partner and designer. With over 15 years of professional experience in photography, he specializes in the fields of marketing communications, strategic brand management, creative design, and project/program management. He holds an MS in hospitality management and a BA in business administration, specializing in strategic marketing communications and development (both degrees obtained in the United Kingdom).
Nayef Hammouri is from Hebron. He holds a diploma in Web design and works in digital marketing, social media, photography, and graphic design. Nayef has participated in numerous local exhibitions and contests, winning a number of awards, including second place in the Palestine Photo-Marathon 2014−2015. He explains: “My passion for photography started in 2012, and I am still learning and improving my skills in this field. I always seek to meet experienced photographers in order to benefit from their experience.”
Raed Abughazaleh is a photographer from Ramallah, Palestine, whose photographs are inspired by the natural and urban elements of his environment. He currently resides in Ramallah and teaches at a local university. You can view Raed’s work on his website, www.RaedAbughazaleh.com.
Rasha Asfour took up photography as a hobby when she was eight years old. Her first two documentary films were titled Al-Nakba and Women’s Rights, and were produced when she was fourteen years old. Having obtained a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography in 2017 from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Rasha currently works as a freelance photographer and artist based in Jerusalem. She enthusiastically aims to create masterpieces that hold meaning, relay a message, and contain the power to make a change for the better.
Born in Jerusalem in 1964, Rula Halawani holds a BA in advanced photography from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada; and an MA in photographic studies from the University of Westminster, London. Her early works register the difficulties associated with living under occupation. Rula has recently turned her lens towards the traces of lives and history that can still be found in frequently overlooked details. The founding director and an associate professor of the photography program at Birzeit University, she has had her works on display in the major international art museums.
Born in Gaza in 1976, Shareef Sarhan works as an artist, professional photographer, and freelance designer. He is a founding member of the Windows from Gaza for Contemporary Art group and an active member of the Association of Palestinian Artists. Shareef holds a diploma in arts from the International Correspondence School of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He has introduced his works via numerous individual and group exhibitions in Gaza’s Arts and Crafts Village and Port Gallery, and exhibited his award-winning works in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Amman, Britain, the United States, Spain, Sweden, Sharjah, and Cairo.
Steve Sabella, born in Jerusalem, is a Berlin-based artist. His first monograph, which covers 20 years of his art, was published by Hatje Cantz in collaboration with the Akademie der Künste, Berlin. He holds two MA degrees, one in photographic studies from the University of Westminster in London. Sabella exhibits internationally, and his work is held in collections in various locations, including the British Museum, London, and Mathaf, Doha. Between 1998 and 2007, Steve was the most commissioned photographer in Palestine, shooting for editorials, advertising, and artistic collaborations.
Tamara Habash Samandar is a creative photographer who specializes in portrait, newborn, and wedding photography. Intrigued by the artistic details of photos, Tamara creatively engages her eyes and her mind in capturing images that last a lifetime. Involved in photography since 2007, she started her professional portrait photography business in late 2012. Having taken photography courses at Birzeit University and regularly attending online workshops, she considers the best recipe for advancement to be practice. Tamara asserts: “I’m a dreamer, and I firmly believe that dreams do come true!”