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Lens: Between the Pages of Tel Aviv’s Photography Magazine

A relatively new addition to the Tel Aviv art scene, Lens Magazine exhibits photography by exceptional Israeli artists. Each issue focuses on a specific concept, and showcases a beautifully curated selection of photographers and their work. We catch up with Dafna Navarro, the magazine’s founder and editor.


© Lika Ramati

In the Beginning, There was Art

Lens magazine is Dafna’s second brain-child, following in the footsteps of its older sister, ‘Israeli Art Market‘, a magazine dedicated to the full spectrum of Israeli Art. While exploring the concept of Lens magazine, she found her prototype filled a previously empty niche: a magazine in English, highlighting Israeli photographers for the international community.

‘I think the exposure is important, both in the Jewish and Israeli communities abroad as well as the broader international art community.’ Just seven months since its launch in October 2014, Lens has gained recognition and subscriptions worldwide.

Dead Sea © Moshe Filberg

Once Upon a Time…

‘My personal connection to photography actually dates back to my military service. I was sent to do a photography course for the air force. We were stationed in the middle of the desert with nothing around us. The detachment allowed us to really be immersed in the art. It was an amazing and very fun experience.’

© Michal Chelbin
© Michal Chelbin

About the Artists

Besides exhibiting their striking photographs, Lens lifts the veil of separation, introducing the reader to the artist. The bio’s give a taste of the photographer’s inspiration, philosophies and their relationship with their art. One such quote from the January 2015 issue by Yair Pollak stood out – ‘Sometimes the photograph is the answer, sometimes it is the by product of the process, and sometimes it is the beginning of a new question.’

© Yakir Pollak
© Yakir Pollak

Curating: An Art Form in Itself

‘Each time a new issue is released into the world, the experience is like giving birth. I spend a month crafting and editing, choosing the right artists and putting all the aspects together. Seeing the final product is incredibly fulfilling.’

Each issue Dafna hand-selects artists from an overwhelming number of submissions. Her professional background in art evaluation gives her an edge in making these difficult decisions. While the magazine only features Israeli artists, often times these are individuals who live and work abroad, giving the magazine an eclectic feel. ‘As long as they affiliate as Israeli, it doesn’t matter where they’re from originally or where they live now.’

The over-arching theme, such as April’s ‘Portrait issue’, gives a platform for Lens to feature outstanding artists in their speciality. For example, Michal Chelbin who is internationally renowned for her photographs of people. ‘Sometimes I come across photographers who are talented, but whose work don’t have a cohesive style. I won’t feature someone like that, it is very important that the pieces speak to each other.’

The Medium: Physical Versus Digital

The magazine is sold primary online, downloads are offered through iTunes and amazonas well as other large online distributors. Physical copies, for the time being, are only accessible in the US by monthly subscription. ‘I have come to the conclusion that holding paper in my hand is more fun as an experience, but as far as using the information [photographs], a digital format is much more useful.’

However, as other publications struggle to make the leap from print to digital, Dafna sees the future of lens going the opposite direction. ‘We started digital and we have gotten to a place where [both magazines] are selling very well abroad, but I would like to see printed copies available anywhere magazines are sold. For me, I still see this as the beginning.’ Digital revolution or not, there’s something inexplicitly magical about running your fingers across large glossy photographs.

By Dannah Cahn

Dannah is a Visual Communications Student at the Interdisciplinary Center Hertseliya. Born in northern California, she has spent the last nine years living in Israel (Jerusalem, Kibbutz Shamir, Tel Aviv respectively). As victim of chronic wanderlust, she finds solace while not traveling through creative outlets and a passionate love for red wine. A self proclaimed foodie and art enthusiast, Dannah also enjoys long walks on the beach, falling off a surf board and taking naps on her yoga mat. She lives her life by her mantra, “Life is short, buy the shoes.” You can follow her on pinterest and instagram.

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