"The Nature of Palestine" Charms the Lens of "Kiwan," who Traveled the Globe to Photograph Cosmic Phenomenon
By: Hadeel Awni Atallah
|Acre from the air - photo by Jamal Kiwan
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
Rarely do we find a talented person who doesn’t turn his/her talent into a source of living, but the Palestinian photographer Jamal Kiwan did. Attracted by the charm of the displaced Palestinian villages and cities, through his pictures he managed to document the beauty of Palestine. His talent did not stop there, as the captivating nature of different parts of the world stole his heart, leading him to receive world-class awards. Kiwan’s official work, however, is away from all of this. He works in the design of plastic products and programming.
Jamal Kiwan’s origin comes from a displaced village in Nazareth called Saffouria. His photographic journey began there, with the camera he bought with his own pocket money when he was young, captivated by the beauty of the village when he visited his grandfather’s house, which is still standing. That’s when he began visiting the remaining displaced villages and documented them for future generations, which is the essence of his message as he says.
The Nazareth native confirms that the Israeli settlers do not like the documentation of displaced villages that he does, because it reveals their false claim that “Palestine was a land without people.” This pushed him to document Palestine before 1948 through a book he published about the displaced villages that compares the villages in the past and present.
One of the contests he won was in National Geographic, about the customs and cultures of peoples through a picture of a gathered family sitting in the yard of their house. "This is what we lack today; despite the Palestinian’s lives of poverty and siege” as he expressed.
Kiwan is keen to keep everything as "natural" as possible between 80-90% without resorting to a lot of effects; just using filters to balance the lighting.
Jamal believes in the words of Ansel Adams, an environmentalist and a world photographer of natural landmarks - “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” That’s why we find him looking through the camera as a tool to express what he’s thinking to reflect his own vision.
Culture and patience are the secret to a successful photographer
Tips are not derived from books, they are inspired by experience. Therefore Jamal advises camera lovers not think that it is limited to the techniques of the lens, rather it requires reading, perseverance, patience and a critical eye that succeeds in forming the elements of the image to become the most beautiful possible. This means that photographers should dig their own way with their hands according to his opinion.
He said “I accompanied photographers from all over the world in photography tours, and I noticed that what distinguishes them is humility and the exchange of knowledge and respect for the work of others. Such tours were able to present the other side of a Palestinian who loves life, adventure and peddlery. I also had the privilege of participating in an exhibition in London with international photographers, where I was asked to present my city “Nazareth”.
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh