The Most Compelling Photography Is Born From Empathy
By Chris Palmer, M.A.
Great photography grabs you and moves you.
It stirs something human inside you that makes you stop and feel something that’s actually worth stopping for.
It’s really a different kind of language, forms and light, captured in stills or in motion in a way that tells a story words never could.
“I try to spend the most time listening,” said Eyal Gamili Holtzeker, photographer and founder of AbstractZen.com. “That’s when I find out the truth of what each client wants to express the most in their projects.”
In even the simplest promotional videos, Gamili tells a wordless story that pulls at your humanity, connecting you to the essence of what the client wants to express.
“I did a video for Spring Valley School in Palm Harbor, FL that was initially very difficult,” said Gamili. “They are a progressive Sudbury school that’s largely student-led. How do you tell such a complex story about a radically different kind of schooling in only a few minutes?”
You start with the humanity.
Gamili extensively interviewed the staff, parents, and students before the first camera was even unpacked.
“I need to know their truest story,” said Gamili. “I need to know why it is special to them and why making a video is so important.”
So in many ways, he takes a counseling approach to his art. Each client struggles to express; Gamili drills down in a consultative way to get to their truth.
“In the end it’s often about figuring out the words they didn’t say,” said Gamili. “It’s like a puzzle that only photography can solve. The right images, form, and light, capture and express intentions where words fail.”
Of course there is the technical side, the software, the lighting, the shooting environment. But Gamili never starts there.
“Each human being wants to be heard,” said Gamili. “They want to express their truth, whether it’s a personal shoot or a video to promote an idea. And the best artistry always comes when I start at that human level, really trying to understand the things they can’t express in words. That’s the magic.”
As the Spring Valley School promotional video runs its final few seconds, you can’t help but feel the story Gamili so masterfully crafts in such a simple yet complex arrangement of images and unspoken expression. Children running freely across a grassy playground landscape with almost dreamlike imagery.
“Everything starts with our humanity,” said Gamili. “As long as I always start there, the art will be truthful.”
AbstractZen creates still and video image projects customized to clients for personal and business use. For more information, go to AbstractZen.com.