Press Room


Asad Haider, Wonderful Macine, Wednesday December 1st, 2010

Today is World AIDS Day, so it’s a good time to take a look at the recent work of our Israel-based photographer Gil Lavi. Gil recently put together an ad for the AIDS Task Force print campaign that’s been featured all over the internet (Ads of the World and Best Ads on TV, for example; it’s also won a Silver from the International Aperture Awards).



Concerned with the rising number of HIV infections among young people, Gil did this shot pro bono, teaming up with the advertising agency Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive Tel Aviv. The group gathered in a young person’s apartment in Tel Aviv, with the goal of putting together what Gil describes as a “hipster kind of room.” See if you spot all the items; I notice Converse sneakers, a bottle of Jagermeister (is that hip now?), an Andy Warhol print, and a snowboard. I especially appreciate the 2 many DJs poster.

In spite of the very serious subject matter, it looks like a fun shoot. This is quite evident in the staff shot, which we have here for you as a Wonderful Machine exclusive.

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Tzipi Livni became the “Barbie”, Shelly Yachimovich had “serious Polishing”, Moshe Kahlon posed as “one of us”. Political portraits photographer tells how he learns “the DNA of the candidate.” Politics has many faces.

Yael Levi, Yediot Achronot, 23.12.08, 23:33

According to Gil Lavi, a political portrait photographer, the lighting arrangement used on candidates is integral to the fantasy sold to us. “The recognition of politicians is mainly through official portraits. For example, the famous photograph of Ariel Sharon looking to the right. A portrait image is what’s etched in the public’s mind, so the second in which it is captured must conquer its heart”, he explains.

Lavi also explains that a portrait can sometimes hurt a candidate’s political campaign,as evident in the current election campaign. “Bibi’s picture conveys something very distant, non-empathetic, and fails to connect with the viewer. Pity – because Bibi is generally an excellent object to shoot. , he is an experienced former Prime Minister and does not have to prove strength. His image in the current campaign seems more appropriate of a young candidate that must prove his status. Bibi does not need to, actually in his case I’d go for something more empathetic.”

“Every politician is photographed in a different and unique way. When I shot Shimon Peres, for example, I took his characteristics into account. Moshe Kahlon, another candidate for elections, embodies an open and pleasant quality and is perceived by the public as “one of us”. Consequently he can be photographed even with a smile.”

Another example?

“Uri Zaki from Meretz or Yohanan Plesner from Kadima are younger candidates, so we want to create an image of a leader- a much more powerful and dominant photograph. It means that the pictures will be more dramatic and even do things contrary to common perceptions.”

To understand what exactly he wants to get out of his subjects, Lavi tends to carry out a personal conversation with them, sometimes lasting hours long.“We decide together what they want to show. Usually I would be with the candidate alone and sometimes speak with the strategic adviser first. I’m learning what the moral DNA is”, says Lavi.

“I get to high levels of intimacy with the subject and use guided imagination to lead him to certain feelings, to get that look in his eyes which creates the perfect image. Because they aren’t models it’s very interesting to bring out an impressive picture that the viewer can connect to easily.”

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Gil’s interview about Urban Photography on Israel’s Channel 10. Click to watch video!

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Gil Lavi is a world-class commercial photographer, portraitist and brand image consultant. He also has a keen eye for documentary photography, as seen in his series, “Soldiers in White” which explores the world of Israel’s emergency medical technicians.

Rachel Neiman, Israel21C, September 4, 2009 – 6:59 PM



The living quarters where sleep can be interrupted in a moment…


… as EMTs launch into action.

Lavi also takes special note of the relationship between religious and secular EMTs…



… and the camaraderie between male and female, young and old.


MDA’s heroic efforts in bringing medical services to all sides under the most trying circumstances have been well-reported by ISRAEL21c , but Lavi’s is a more intimate look. It’s a far cry from the high gloss commercial work for which he is famous — Lavi was named one of the 300 most influential Israelis under 40 for 2009 by Forbes magazine — but ties in to his photographic roots: during his army service, he was a photographer for the Ground Forces Command and then head of the IDF Still Photography Department. In fact, darkroom fluid flows in his veins: his father is renowned photographer Moshe Lavi (more about him, hopefully, on another Friday).

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Thousands of people, gay and straight, gathered in Tel Aviv to mark the one-year memorial anniversary of the GLBT Drop-in Center killings that took two young lives, injured 13 physically and damaged countless others psychologically.

Last year, photographer Gil Lavi documented the spontaneous outpouring of emotion and mourning that followed the horrifying event. The shooter has still not been found.

Rachel Neiman, Israel21C, August 1, 2010 – 3:00 PM
At the time, Lavi wrote: “This occurred inside a community center for gay and lesbian youth who are afraid to come out to the wider community. A man with a loaded gun came in at around 11pm and opened fire. The statements coming from the police say that he wore a mask. You could say that all those youths who depended on this center for their free expression are forced to wear a mask on a daily basis. Their mask doesn’t cover their face, rather their soul.”

This year, there are signs of increasing tolerance on the horizon and — at least as far as the secular community is concerned — they come from an unexpected source. Orthodox rabbis and educators from Israel and abroad have created and signed a statement of principles “on the place of our brothers and sisters in our community who have a homosexual orientation”. “We hope and pray that by sharing these thoughts we will help the Orthodox community to fully live out its commitment to the principles and values of Torah and Halakha as practiced and cherished by the children of Abraham, who our sages teach us are recognized by the qualities of being rahamanim (merciful), bayshanim (modest), and gomelei hasadim (engaging in acts of loving-kindness).”

Let us hope that these prayers provide much-needed direction to the children of Abraham and come true, speedily and in our days.

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Photographer Gil Lavi, only 24, accompanied for three weeks to the residents of the south and hundreds of MDA volunteers during the war, whenever summoned to treat the wounded and through the moments of waiting. Carrying a moving series of photographs, he tries to explain what drove him to it.

Carmen Sapphire – Maariv | 29/01/2009

Albert the dog crouched in the Tel Aviv’s studio of the photographer Gil Lavi and looked around with a yawn. A knock sounded at on the door jump startled him, then he returned to the normal posture. Albert looked up and watched ass Member of the Israeli pParliament Member Ilan Gilon stepped inside. He has been accustomed to the embarrassment shyness of politicians who come to be photographed for the a campaign.

Gilon sat on a chair, and called Albert to come closer. “Sit next to me, Albert,” he asked. ” Lavi smiled with satisfaction. Albert again did his job and breaking the ice. This trick works great with the politicians of all sorts.
“There are obviously more tools for easing the embarrassment,” says Lavi, “but you can say for sure that Albert provides support and backhand so many times.”

Albert the dog, perhaps more than anything else, can attest to the unusual behavior of the young photographer, aged 24. Lavi is the owner of a commercial photography studio and His his portfolio includes campaigns for clients such as Orange, Deloitte, Brinks & Delta.

How do you create the connections?
“I’m a little out of place. I’m not rude, I am brave. Fear never stopped me from doing things, but contrary to what people think I almost did never initiate things. Did not like turning to turn a potential customer ever.”

“Records only  the life”

Lavi was born in Yavne. His mother worked in an Art workshop. His father served as army officer and an avid photo enthusiast. At the age of seven he stepped into the darkness with the 20 years old Nikon camera, and never went away. Like his father he grown to love photography.

“They were laid before me. I picked them,” he says. He photographed everything in its his path, and did not pass on any comer of the house. When he was 14 he started writing for a local newspaper in his hometown. He photographed Israeli delegations to Poland and took portraits. His Portrait of the Mayor of Yavne Zvi Gov Ari was to become his major debut in 2002.

“It was an overwhelmingly negative portrait. The title given to was very encouraging, and it was published almost every week” Lavi recalls. “This is one of the reasons why the paper was closed.”

When called to service at the age of 18 Lavi found himself at the Combat Engineering Corps. After a year in combat engineering, he had to leave the regiment in which he served, and moved the headquarters of the Ground Forces as where he was responsible for documentation of international operations. Lavi met various armies army chiefs of staff, watched from the side, and photographed.

On the day he finished his military service he opened his own business. The free market rewarded his arm shim very quickly, and last year he found himself on the line with international clientele spanning Israel – ,Europe, –and the United States. Between work and projects overseas, Lavi came down to shoot Meretz’s campaign. With war guns thundering in the background, the young photographer found himself on his way to Sderot, “to see what’s happening there.”

Blood and fire? not him. “I do not care about the drama of blood and war. What’s significant is is the people on both sides and their lifestyle,” he declares.

But blood poses great.
“That’s right. Very easy to build a career on the blood, but I decided that I record just life.”

What did you learn about them?
“I learned that people in Sderot have learned to live with missiles. It showed in everything that happens in this city, and it’s shocking. I walked around all day and I haven’t met a living soul. I stood in children playground with slides and carousels, and just nothing. Quiet. I saw three concrete blocks of sorrow, underneath a chair toy with a steering wheel, fixed to the ground.”

“There was a terrible great dissonance between in an innocent graffiti:. A simple toy-soldier dismantling the weapons. This one for me is a frame that tells the story of the children of Sderot. This kind of pictures I was trying to present abroad, clean and clear, because I felt that people do not understand enough what’s going on there. No one can say that is what a kinder garden should look like.”

Unlike the laws of nature

Two projects kept him busy in the early days of the war. The first project, “My South,” documented the local lifestyle, The second was “Soldiers in white” in which Gil accompanied the hundreds of MDA (Israel Red Cross) hundreds of volunteers and employees: Israelis, Canadians, Poles and Germans, -all dressed in white and on high alert.

“What interested me is what causes them to be there,” says Lavi, . “students Students which who were supposed to do matriculation exams, and preferred to volunteer in the middle of the line of fire, family men who leave left their jobs. It was not obvious, instead of sitting at their home in Tel Aviv, people are leaving their friends to wear white uniforms, and help.

You got an answer?
“The most important thing is not to answer this question, but to ask. Most people do not think about it at all. Many times we forget to ask who they are. I found a great deal of courage and determination while everyone just ran away from these cities. It’s against nature.

What were the most difficult moments?
“Just routine was the hardest part. The MDA volunteers see on television when something happens., they They are active, when there is blood. I think the difficulty was the change of life. About 20 people sleeping in one room in armored vests.”

Is there such a photo, an objective?
“No. Photography is trying hard to be objective, trying as much as possible not to take a position. To For me this is not photography at all. No meat and no milk. So as this wasIt seems stupid, because the photographer’s first job is to influence and display take a stand. I believe that every person should express their his position, and in photography that he he has so much power to do so.”

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