Noga Abraham is one of four photographers from our Through Rose Colored Lenses open call that was selected for an honoree article. Below you can read more about her series, POPO, and learn more about the photographer!
About the Artist:
I am Noga Abraham, a 26 years old women photography student who lives Israel. I'm taking photos since the age of sixteen and until this day it is what I feel most passionate about. To me, a camera is a tool for communication and a way to truly get to know people. I like to travel, explore my surroundings, and get to know new people and cultures of various kinds. Everyone has a unique story, and I am telling people's story.
Currently, I am studying for my BA in photography at Hadassah Academic College of Jerusalem Israel. I served in the Israeli Army as a photographer for two years and prior to that, I studied cinema and television at Ort-Psagot College at Karmiel.
In this work, I photographed Paulette Azar, or her nickname - Popo.
I have know Popo since I was born. She is a unique character in the village where I live. Popo went through many tragedies in her life: Her two brothers and her mother died of cancer, and she herself had been coping with an illness for a long time. Her husband passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest while at a holiday party in the village when Sivan, her daughter of my age, was only thirteen years old.
Despite the tragedies that afflict her and her family constantly, Popo always stays positive and smiling. Her home is a gathering point where the door is always open and everyone is welcome to sit, smoke or play. She greets the guests with a spliff in her hand and the latest gossip of the village.
Through this project I wanted to expose Popo behind the known smile and the decision to reveal her in that way was not simple. I was afraid that the process would break or upset her, but she saw it as an empowering notion. We returned to the old public dining room of the village where she and her husband were married and years later, in the same dining room, where he found his death. We went through old news articles about her brother who was a famous drummer and died of cancer. Finally, we visited the local cemetery where only one single grave stands - her husband's.
"I was very excited that you made a project about me. It gives me the strength to continue, and I need a lot of strength." - Popo
Below, Noga answered a few more questions about her series and photography practice!
Why did you choose photography over other artistic mediums?
My mother is a painter and a ceramicist, so art was always around in our home. For years she tried to teach me how to paint but I was really bad at it, and I didn't find much interest in it. Photography wasn't a conscious decision. When I was 15 I asked my parents to sign me up to a photography course we had in the photography museum near my high school, and after that, I got hooked. Photography is what I have done ever since. Even when I turned 18 and had to join the army, I was determined to continue practicing it and engage in photography. I got the job and served two years as an army photographer.
How did this series start for you creatively?
The series started as an assignment I got in a documentary course at school where we were asked to produce a series under the theme 'Hero'.
At first, my thoughts went very far, and I had ideas that were difficult regarding production, but then I realized that I needed to change my perspective. There are a lot of simple people who bravely cope with difficult circumstances in life, and they are, in my opinion, true heroes.
What reflections have you come to after finishing this series? If you are still working on the series, what revelations have come up while creating the series?
I found that even when you know someone from the day you were born, as I know Paulette, there are depths you do not reach with most people. The camera allows me to create this deep connection. When a person lets you into his home and allows you to accompany him for a few days, he is vulnerable, and vulnerability is the basis that allows this connection between people to happen.
Do you ever get in creative slumps? If you do, how do you get out of them? If not, what methods have you created not to get into a slump?
Of course. I believe that every artist encounters creative slumps at some point or another. In school, it happens to me a lot because the framework demands you to be constantly creative and suggest new ideas and projects every week in several different courses and it is a very difficult thing to do. There is not much time to sit down and develop an idea, everything needs to happen fast, and you should always have an idea to pull out. Sometimes I feel that my mind is blocked, that the pool of ideas is completely empty. It can be a very paralyzing feeling. Those are the moments when you feel that you are not good enough and that you may not have the necessary abilities. I still don't have the perfect solution to how to deal with it; I'm still learning, but I think the beginning is to understand that this is all part of the creative process.
Are there any books, movies, magazines or podcasts that you would recommend people to check out?
One of my favorite books at the moment is ׳The Rosie Project'. It’s a sensitive, funny and wise book that teaches to accept people who are different from us and to be attentive to the needs of humans around us. As a portrait photographer, you engage with people all the time. I believe that the first rule is not to be judgmental and not to patronize, but to be sensitive, listen, be open and accepting. And I think the book conveys this message beautifully.
As far as movies, the list can be endless. Two films that had great influence on me that I recommend everyone to watch are 'Into the Wild' and 'Captain Fantastic'. Both are beautiful human and enlightening films.
Lastly, what artists are currently inspiring you?
I'm very intrigued by portrait photography nowadays, and I love the work of Ken Hermann and the documentary series of Chris Scheurich.
And also Sally Mann, who strongly influenced the way I see and use natural light.