OP/TECH USA Ambassador Feature: Ohad Kab
Before launching into the riveting interview I had with renowned Israeli born photographer, Ohad Kab, I wanted to let Ohad introduce himself through his own written words... This was taken from Ohad's bio on his website. He calls this introduction of himself, "Artist Declaration."
Ohad states: "At the age of nine I held a camera for the first time. My dad used to travel abroad a great deal and one time he came back with a present. I can testify that it was then that a dramatic change occurred in my life. From the moment the camera entered our home, it did not leave my eye. I would take it everywhere, shooting anything that crossed my way. This apparatus became the eyes through which I viewed the world. From time immemorial I had a growing fear that I might forget everything, and won't remember what had happened. The fear has never left me. Thanks to that fear, photography and documentation has become an inseparable part of my life.
In time, that same fear of a nine-year-old boy who was compelled to document became the fear of the grown man I am today. I felt the desire to photograph and document all those transparent people, as I call them, the ones Society does not notice, whether from choice or not, the ones who cannot make their voice heard. Through photography, I feel I can give them back the possibility for being significant in this world, even if momentarily, and feel that someone sees them and takes interest in them.
I have always been enchanted by the ordinary person, who is any one of us. When I meet that person, I do not know where he or she comes from. And yet, I detect the spark, and carefully try to scrape off the layers and meet him or her in a more truthful way. These people spring naturally in front of my eyes and I see them as attractive characters coloring the streets. I have always felt that no matter how much I talk to people, or however much I try to connect with them, I can never be a natural part of the landscape they belong to, or comprehend them in the ultimate way I wish. I had always felt that capturing them in a portrait will be the nearest way for me to remember them and to connect to their lives. Photography gives me a sense that I, or anyone else, might look at these people, and see them from another viewpoint. It can be a view of respect, or compassion, or perhaps the next time one might come across one of these persons, one's gaze will be different. And that for me is worth it all.
I express my fear through my art; my fear that people will be overlooked, the fear that they will be forgotten, and will not be viewed as I see them. These ordinary people are to my eyes the most beautiful landscape of any street or neighbourhood in the world and it is important for me to perpetuate this landscape, and remember it. This is especially true in a world where one finds it hard to lift one's eyes from the screen, even for a moment; in a world where social media explode
with infinite possibilities, but where loneliness becomes increasingly intense. How easy it is to ignore and move on. It is then that my need to make these people's voice 'heard'. That same burning inner need to remember and to remind through my photographs, reminds me that it is that same inner voice of the nine-year-old boy who ordered me to document any moment so that one day I might remember all those moments, and never forget."
I first met Ohad when I was scrolling through our social media messages and saw a message from Ohad. I quickly learned that Ohad used OP/TECH USA straps while on set of well-known TV shows such as Survivor VIP, X Factor, and Married at First Sight. Ohad sent me some photos of himself using the double sling on set of Survivor VIP and I knew I had to hear more about his fascinating journey as a photographer.
In the midst of trying to coordinate a time to interview Ohad, he made a big move from Israel to the United States of America! To be specific, "The big apple"... NYC...New York City! It was so nice to finally get to talk to Ohad several weeks ago and to hear his story!
Now on to my interview with Ohad! We start the interview with Ohad showing me some more photos of him using the OP/TECH USA Double Sling on set of Survivor VIP. It leads me to my first question.
Ohad, I remember watching Survivor when I was younger. I did not know they had Survivor based in other countries! How neat!
Can you tell us how you got the opportunity to be a photographer on set?
Yeah! It's one of the biggest shows around the world. In Israel, it's like the biggest production, besides maybe The Amazing Race.
The opportunity to be the photographer of those prime-time shows started when I became an assistant photographer to the biggest entertainment photographer in Israel- Ohad Romano. I was his assistant for four years. While I was assisting him, I started working on my business also. Everything was from his permission and now I work with some of his clients. He used to do the billboards of all the biggest shows and among them was the Survivor show. It was 4 or 5 years ago. While we were doing the shooting, we had a good relationship with the woman who was the head of the marketing of one of the biggest TV channels in Israel- such as HBO or CBS. I told her that if there is ever an opportunity for me to photograph for any shows that weren't suitable to my boss, I would like to do them. He wouldn't do projects for the long-term. He would only do the PR shoots and the big billboard shoots. She said, "Okay."
A year after, I got a call from the Survivor production and they told me they got a really nice recommendation from that lady. I think before I got this job
If you're doing a good job and if people are satisfied with your service, you get more jobs.
Wow! So are you going to be able to go back to Israel again if you're asked to continue to photograph for Survivor?
Yeah! It is hard to be away from my wife and dog. It's just them. It's really hard for us to separate for two months but my wife really wants me to go again because of the benefits. This show has given me publicity and marketing every year. When the show is on, they use all my pictures... all my images in publication, social media, the newspapers.
This past year it was Survivor VIP so there were talents there... about 18 talents, I believe. There are 20 or more talents in the X Factor, which I also did. When the show posts or uses my photos, they always give me photo credit. It is very nice.
In addition, there is the economic side, there are 2 months of a guaranteed job. When you are a freelancer, it is really important.
We aren't sure we are going to be staying in the US for all of our lives. I shoot things all the time where I need to know people here... make connections here... but at the same time, I don't want to lose the connections that I established in my country,
I think it is important that I do another season for my PR but it's so hard to leave my wife for 2 months.
I understand how that could be difficult! I know they must feel very blessed to have you there to photograph. I understand the benefits but also know that traveling so much must be hard sometimes!
Now that we know about your experiences with Survivor and other prime time TV shows, can you tell us how you got started in photography?
What drew me to photography was that I was obsessed with the fear of not remembering experiences and people. I didn't want to forget special days or scenes from my military service... or my big trip to South America. So, I started to photograph everything in a really obsessed way- like my friends from class and my friends from the army. I remember that I really loved it.
People started to tell me that I was pretty good at it. I was a really shy person and I was fascinated by people and places. When I had the camera, it gave me an excuse to reach out to people and start to talk to them. I thought it was a bit strange to approach people that I didn't know, but I was fascinated with them- the way they look... the way they dress... what they are doing. If I don't have my camera, it's a bit strange to start a conversation. I think that is one of the reasons that I started doing portraits. People are really interesting to me and the story that they are telling... and what I can learn from them.
In Israel, we go on big "after military" trips. We save money for one year- by bussing tables and such. We go to places like South America or India for one year and make a nice, long vacation. I remember thinking that it was the time for me to check if
People say, "If you love what you do, you don't have to work a day in your life." I think that is an inaccurate sentence. Yes it's fun and you have nice days, but you are still working. I love what I do, but I'm still working haha! There are many more aspects in the work of photography like editing, location scouting, negotiation, marketing, accounting, and many other things that are less fun than actually taking pictures.
I get what you're saying! Thanks so much for sharing your photography back story with us! From what you shared, I have a few more questions now!
When you mentioned your military service, did you mean the required time that you had to serve with the IDF?
Yeah! I was in a K-9 unit. I had two attack dogs. It was very special. When I think about it, I believe that the military helped me do better photography work because what we do in the K-9 unit is join other elite units. The K-9 unit is a very prestigious unit. We go and join like the navy seals and the best units in Israel. You can find yourself one day with this unit and another day with another unit. You have to be very flexible and engage with people very fast. You need to know how to work with a team and be very assertive. You are dealing with people's lives. I believe it shaped me and helped me have benefits in my photography work when working on productions. I can do a production in the Philippines and then the next month, I could be working on another show in a very different location.
The military service is also where I got to know my wife! She was also in the K-9 unit. She was in the best unit for girls.
That's so neat how your military experience helped prepare you for your work as a photographer! It's also so special that you met your wife that way!
Did you get to choose which unit you wanted to be in?
Yes, they give you forms to fill out and it depends on some of your grades. We have tests and you get a score on your medical history. I had a score of 82. The highest is 97. I got 82 because I am actually colorblind!
Oh wow! Now I have even more questions!
How does being colorblind affect you in terms of photography?
My editing skills are not the best. I can say that. I can do dodge and burn and retouch and such- but my color grading is not perfect. I think if you look at my work, you cannot notice that I'm colorblind. I can see colors. Not everything is black and white, but I have problems with greens and reds. Sometimes, if it is a big job, I always check with my wife. Before I send it, I ask her, "Do you see something strange with the colors?" She'll tell me. Sometimes I send it to retouch if it is a very very big job. You don't always have to do everything. You can let other people do what they are best at.
That is incredibly interesting! So wonderful how your wife can help you with your editing!!
I know that you sometimes shoot in film because I have seen your work and we have done collaborations with you on the film account on instagram that you also manage!
Did you start with film or did you start with digital?
As a matter of fact, I started shooting with film in 3rd grade. I was sent to a special school for gifted children. We did dark room stuff and printing. It wasn't professional. This is my first memory about photography. I later started with digital and then picked back up with film. I felt that I had some basics but I wanted to strengthen my skills.
I found myself thinking too much about the posts. Thinking "Oh yeah, I can fix this shot later on Photoshop. I started thinking that way too much. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be more thorough with things such as the light metering and the composition. I challenged myself. When you shoot in film, you have to think more on every image that you take. You think about all the things such as the cropping and you check the light meter 20x before taking the shot because it is costing you money! haha.
I have heard the same thing from other photographers and having to be very intentional with the techniques of getting the shot when using film! Film seems to have a bit of a learning curve, but it also sounds like it really helps teach you the basics of photography!
When you shoot for shows like Survivor, that's all in digital right?
Yes of course. The clientele in Israel doesn't care about film. It's not the deal in Israel. I think I can count on my hand the clients that will ask you to shoot in film. It just doesn't happen. Especially in the commercial and advertising industry. Nobody will ask you to do film photography. They don't have the time to wait for you to send them the pictures. They want everything fast and they don't want to pay more
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Ohad. You are a very interesting person!
Really?! I just told my wife that I want to be more personal on my Instagram account. I feel like have nothing to say. I don't think I'm interesting. It's funny you say that! haha.
I think that sometimes, as photographers, we can be critical of ourselves and feel like we have nothing interesting to share. Your life sounds very interesting to me though and I believe others out there would think the same thing!
Real quick before I let you go! Can you tell us what prompted you and your wife to move to America?
It was mostly because it was a dream for my wife and I to live in another country- for awhile or for forever. I don't know yet. We almost went to Costa Rica to work in a restaurant and leave photography stuff behind. I was getting a little frustrated with all the client work. All the things you don't really see in a photographer's life. Everything besides the photograph and the marketing. I was thinking I had enough of everything, but then my father told me, "You're very gifted. You're very talented. Please don't waste it! If you want to go to Costa Rica to work in the kitchen, you can do it 5 years from now." So, we decided to give it another try.
I think here in the United States, especially in New York, I feel like I can develop myself more than I can in Israel. You can always learn more stuff, but I think here you have the best base for it. The equipment, the photographers that work here, the galleries, everything. So we came here... to know new people, to learn, to develop, to do some personal projects... to go out from the comfort zone.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us, Ohad! We feel very fortunate to have you as an OP/TECH USA ambassador and enjoy doing collaborations with you on your film account! We cannot wait to see all the amazing work you'll continue to do!
Enjoy more photos from Ohad Kab below! Also, connect with Ohad following clicking on these social links. If you visit his instagram, there is a picture of Wonder Woman herself- Gal Gadot! Ohad photographed her on set of a commercial- how cool!