Jerusalem is the creative terrain of Israeli photographer David Mor. The city, which he calls home, serves as a backdrop to turn everyday scenes into an allegorical and spiritual expression of ideas. The first rays of sunlight are an important yet fleeting design medium for Mor. At least one ZEISS lens is always in his bag.
“Two men from two different backgrounds – one is Muslim, the other Jewish – are taking a morning walk together in the Old City of Jerusalem. In moments like this one is full of hope that one day all conflicts will end in the same fashion of peaceful cooperation and mutual respect. The Distagon T* 2/35 is perfect for such scenes. It reflects the rays of light and the warm atmosphere in a way I have not experienced with any other lens.”
“One day, early in the morning, someone was cleaning the façade of a shop with a steam jet. When I looked through the viewfinder, it was the lens itself that inspired me to take this picture. The way that ZEISS lenses sharpen your view leads my fantasy into magical worlds time and time again. In this particular image, the light becomes a paint that is sprayed on a wall. In post-processing I only needed to tweak the contrast and the color balance.”
“This picture was taken during a feast to honor the holy Saint Stephen in a Greek Orthodox church. I think the woman dressed in the black cloak is telling the story of Saint Stephen the Martyr. In the haze of the frankincense, the light appears architectural and supernatural at once.”
“I took this picture while testing my new Distagon T* 2/25 ZF.2. It was still very early in the morning and someone was sweeping the roof right above me. What looks like ‘bokeh rain’ was actually created from a combination of dust particles, sunlight and the very sharp lens. This style element is sometimes used in macro photography, but I have never come across it in street photography.”
“I was looking for the best angle for an ultra wide-angle scene. The new Distagon T* 2,8/15 dramatizes the perspective and turns the narrow, sun-drenched alleys into a three-dimensional stage, with the ‚actor‘ stepping into a beaming stage light. In situations like this, the lens opens an unexpected door to a new visual language.”
When the sun rises over Jerusalem, David Mor can usually be found strolling through the alleys of the Old City. The city’s history is very present here. The ancient pathways, squares and walls of the old fortified city are evidence of 3,000 years of human life in this place, which has regularly been the scene of wars. The early-morning sun douses the Old City in striking golden hues: the effect is sometime theatrical, sometimes contemplative. “Light is overwhelming, powerful, unfathomable, but people still take it for granted. It is an extremely mysterious phenomenon,” says David. He knows how to use light to compose his images. He can render dust, haze and morning air as a mysterious veil, a three-dimensional object or a glistening “bokeh rain.” Not only that – with the help of light, Mor can place accents in an image, divide a space, stage a scene, or create strong, spiritual emotions. “My challenge is to combine the cosmological and historical aspects of time into one photographic image,” explains David Mor.
When he started as a photographer, David became quickly dissatisfied with the quality of lenses he was using. He decided not to make any compromises and bought the best lens he could find in the largest photo store in town – at that time in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was the Makro-Planar T* 2/100, which he used to create “Wrestling with Gravity,” the winning image of the Carl Zeiss Photo Contest 2011. In the meantime, David is the owner of other ZEISS lenses. “For me, they are like the paintbrushes of an artist.” What he likes most about the Distagon T* 2/35 is its fine, warm tones and its excellent rendering style. No wonder this lens is always with Mor — especially in that golden hour.
About David Mor
David Mor was born in Jerusalem. He lived and worked in Tel Aviv, San Diego, New York, Singapore and São Paulo before returning to Jerusalem in 2010. His work as a photographer is influenced by the city’s history and its status as the center of three world religions. Mor first became interested in photography in high school. For him, photography is a way to explore what lies beyond the boundaries of our exterior world and to expose sublime moments. ”I see it as a never-ending journey of acquiring knowledge and experience rather than capturing spectacular scenes or fleeting moments.”