NOAM OFIR - PHOTO SENSIBILITY
Text: Emma Nathan
For Noam Ofir life has mostly happened whilst he has observed it. This may be unusual if it weren’t for the fact that Noam Ofir is a photographer. It is in his spirit to observe life… in fact – it is his raison d’être.
From birth until eighteen, Noam Ofir lived in a small village in the North of Israel. Shortly after his eighteenth birthday he “started walking” and continued until he put down roots in Ibiza in 2001. He continues travelling extensively, but Ibiza is now where Noam considers home and of his work he humbly says his photos are “simply witnessing the magic of Ibiza”.
His first camera came as a gift from his father, just short of his twelfth birthday, but it was to be more than twenty years later that Noam considered himself a photographer. Despite years working as a studio manager, constantly he questioned what he would do when he “grew up”. “You like photography. You do it with love. Why don’t you just do photography?” his closest friend suggested one day. It had been staring him down the lens all this time. This simple revelation was the starting point of Noam Ofir’s career. He was awakened to the life he was already living simply by changing his perception and literally, seeing the bigger picture.
So in the late eighties Noam set off to New York with his camera and new found perspective to embark on achieving professional qualifications. He gained a place in New York’s prestigious International Centre of Photography. Having completed his pre-class assignment “to take photos of your room”, he arrived ready for his first day, only to discover that he was in the wrong class. And the wrong faculty building. Moreover, he now needed to be on the other side of New York City fifteen minutes ago. Scenes parallel to a Woody Allen movie ensued and he eventually happened upon what he believed to be the correct class. He sneaked in as unobtrusively as he could, but it soon became apparent that he again was in the wrong class when his new classmates’ introductions detailed grand careers which matched equally grand portfolios. With no way of escape, Noam introduced himself and sheepishly shared photos of his unmade bed. The tutor, renowned photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, recognised Noam’s obvious but undeveloped talent and invited him to stay amongst the professionals. He credits this education as one that would have taken him years to arrive at through the regular route.
Serendipity would shine its light once again in 2001, after a work cancellation found Noam Ibiza bound for a short holiday. A storm broke the first night and whilst photographing allegedly “the best place on the island”, his worldly possessions, including his beloved cameras were stolen. Down, out and traumatised, instinctively wanting to run, but circumstances rendering it impossible, he returned to the only salvation he knew – taking photos – only this time, in his mind. “This made me realise I was a photographer”, Noam states proudly. Despite having no passport nor money (or most importantly cameras) Ibiza accepted Noam for the season. He fell in love with the island and despite his experience, he vowed to return… and that he did the following year.
Nowadays he still shoots storms, but he’s more likely to be found shooting Ibiza’s international DJs in the hills or supermodels on the beach when not sourcing new locations around his chosen island.
Acknowledging Salvador Dali, Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe and Annie Leibovitz as just a few of his influences, Noam confides that the key to a good photo “is that it says something to the observer and that it tells a story, so it evokes emotion and changes energy”. His hope is that when someone looks at
a photo they are able to see themselves and equally are able find that common thread of energy “that connects us all”. He believes that “as well as evoking creativity and fantasy, contrarily the subtle moments of everyday life are encountered”.
For Noam the beauty of photography lies in its ability to “fork” the moment. Without the photo that moment would not have been able to be shared, nor would it have any awareness. For this he thanks the camera for its reflection. He adds, “as humans, being more complex than practical surviving creatures, photography reflects our spiritual need to evolve in our art”.
Noam Ofir’s next exhibition will open the 15th of September at El Hotel Pacha at 8 pm and run until the 25th of September. It will be dedicated to Philippe Cotto “who left the party before the rest of us”. •