After receiving an extraordinary abilities visa, Gil Lavi moved from Israel to New York City. Photography assignments had continually brought Gil back to New York, over and over again throughout the years, and he slowly found himself falling in love with the city. He adds, “after spending many months each year in New York, it was very clear to me that this is the place for me to be, where I can climb higher both professionally and personally.” The fact that Gil has only been New Yorker of a few weeks hasn’t stopped him from getting some interesting, and truly Americana assignments.
Most recently, Gil got an unusual request from the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC)—shoot the candidates at a national Republican debate. Normally, Gil is more of a commercial shooter, not exactly a photojournalist. However it wasn’t something he’s never done before either. He states, “I think that, in many ways, this assignment was much closer to the style of my personal works than my commercial assignments.”
Gil wasn’t unfamiliar with US politics though, having followed past US elections,
I’ve experienced political photography in Israel, which made me aware of the political world in general. I’d been following the usage of photography in former US presidential campaigns, thinking about the messages of the candidates versus the impact of their images, and of course, trending styles in that field.
After accepting the assignment, Gil found himself in large group of photographers at the debate, creating both a physical and creative restraints,
The shoot was challenging in the regard of creating striking and unique images, while being surrounded by press photographers. I was still obligated to create my signature shots for the RJC. All I could do was use my visual instincts and try to hunt the energy that burst out in certain points of the speeches and compose it using the strong graphic elements of the stage. I stopped myself from shooting at the beginning of the speeches when everyone else did, and I pulled myself away from the straight angles the rest of them used. I was looking for the graphically meaningful spots that will allow me to bring out a very strong messages.
Gil has his own description/take on his three favorite images from the shoot:
Rick Perry’s religious body language—in a moment were he looks like he his on the edge of revelation—reveals so much about his deep feeling of mission.