The Silence of Photographer Ariel Schalit

September 3, 2015 Updated: October 5, 2018

There’s not much to learn online about photographer Ariel Schalit, apart from his work for the Associated Press since 2003 based in Tel Aviv. Perhaps he’s one of the guys who just lets their work speak for them.

Luckily, his work speaks abundantly.

Israel provides a plethora of material for a photographer. It’s a country of wild beauty, passion, and tradition, yet also a lingering legacy of violence. Despite Shalit’s being based in Tel Aviv, I didn’t pick any picture actually showing the city. Perhaps next time. This time I was attracted by something else.

Actually, in featuring a single photographer, I seldom go for a specific theme, and just try to pick the best of the best. More often that not, however, the result gravitates toward a common idea. Sometimes it may faithfully characterize the photographer, but I suspect it may more likely be just my interpretation of his or hers work. After all, most of photojournalism tends to be far from the pack of shots that end up in April winning the Pulitzers. And so I can only look back at my selection and try to guess what it was that struck me about the photographer.

Here the common thread must have been the silence. All of these pictures posses a silent quality—people and objects expressing meanings and emotions without saying a word—the whole string of mute expressiveness broken by a single explosion, as if breaking from the unseen world of Israel’s life into the grim mainstream headlines of photojournalism. Another bomb exploded, millions of people survived and lived on.

Maybe that’s the reality of Israel—learning to live with a measure of silent fear and bravery inside.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab