Ido Biran is an urban photographer, and the genius behind the photo-book 1909 Tel Aviv City Portrait — what he calls, “the first self-guided photo tour of Tel Aviv.”
We talked with Ido about his success in Tel Aviv, his photo-book, and more!
Citizen Café (CC): What brought you to Tel Aviv?
Ido Biran: I’m originally from Herzliya. After the army, I came to Tel Aviv and I’ve been here for 20 years. I left periodically, but always came back. I was in the U.S. for university, and spent three years in Jaffa, but there’s an unmatched feeling of freedom and liberalism in Tel Aviv.
There are plenty of work opportunities, but really it’s become the home for my project: Tel Avivi. My “product” is Tel Aviv, which makes it easy for me to live here.
CC: Why did you create the Tel Aviv City Portrait?
Ido: I worked in an architecture office from 9 in the morning to 7 at night — day-in and day-out in the office and on the computer. I grew tired of the routine and the air conditioning.
I decided to realize a dream of mine: street photography. I dreamt of working outside. Once I left the office, I didn’t even look for a new job; I wandered the streets with a camera, taking shots of everyday interactions in the city. I was so intrigued at what was going on around me, and I felt the need to capture the feelings and stories of the city; I missed being a part of that.
I began uploading the photos to Instagram and Facebook, and I got great feedback, lots of likes, and comments. I got the wind in my sails, and while there was no money at the beginning, I was following my dream, passions, and my heart. I funded myself with photography jobs here and there, such as Tel-O-Fun, the Tel Aviv Port.
Sometimes, to realize a dream, you have to say “no” to what your surrounding wants you to do, and say “yes” to what you love to do, even if it means taking a risk financially.
CC: Tell us an interesting story since you started this project?
Ido: You know Shoko Banana? Well, it’s the classic Israeli ice cream that sends every Israeli into nostalgic memories from their childhood. I have a picture that became very popular, that I took sort of by mistake.
Just one random winter day, I went on a walk to the beach and passed by a market; I entered and grabbed the ice cream that reminded me of my childhood, and headed down to the beach. I slowly opened the wrapper, took a bite and stuck it in front of my face, looking towards the ocean. First close, then far.
Then, I saw the perfect picture: a half-bitten ice cream, between the beach umbrellas and the lifeguard station. I uploaded it to my site and everyone fell in love.
CC: What’s your vision for the book?
Ido: Success for me would be for every Israeli and every Tel Aviv lover internationally to have a copy. Basically, the book is an experience; it’s a photo-tour of the city. You can be in Tel Aviv without actually having to be here.
CC: How do you define the term “Tel Avivian?”
Ido: It’s a combination of Mediterranean and European; a world of contrasts. That’s why you see million-dollar startups filled with employees wearing shorts with flip-flops. If I was to describe a Tel Avivian person, they would be easygoing and liberal.
CC: What do you want people to get out of your book?
Ido: I want to spread a love for people — interesting people. My book is a docu-story that speaks of the people, street art, architecture, and local vibe. I emphasize the colorfulness; the experience is through the colors, modern/old contrast.
You can travel through Tel Aviv through the book; you don’t have to be here to feel the vibe. It’s like an old-fashioned city tour, but through pictures, and you can choose between a number of routes I took while photographing the city.