Oded Wagenstein is a unique and professional photographer whose photographs capture emotions and tells stories.
At a very young age, Oded taught himself how to use the camera as a platform to explore his fears.
Through hard work and determination, he has now built a career as a professional photographer. He loves to travel around the world and capture intimate portraits.
His images and articles are regularly published on numerous international platforms, such as the BBC and the National Geographic.
Oded believes in sharing knowledge. He is the author of three amazing books –
- Stories and Faces – Composition for stronger stories and better portraits.
- Snapn Travel – A lifetime of travel memories in a snap.
- The Visual Storyteller – Creating stronger stories and better photographs.
He is a photography instructor at the largest photography school in the Middle East (Galitz School of Photography). He teaches both Jews and Muslims to use their cameras as a bridge between them. Through photography, he helps them share their stories, hopes, and fears.
In this interview, we had a chance to connect via email to ask him a few questions.
Can you tell us how important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his subjects?
Not every photographer needs to connect with his or her subjects. I have colleagues who are wonderful street photographers and in their mind, even talking with the subject is a great sin. For me, the camera is just a vehicle for fascinating encounters. I love the way the camera allows me to meet new people from different cultures and gain new knowledge. Therefore, I find that connecting with people through the camera is not only the most important aspect of my work but the most rewarding.
How would you describe your style in photography?
The question is – what is style? Is this a form of visual repetition?In that light, I am not sure I have a style. I prefer that we would change the word “style” with the word “voice“. I find that focusing on “style” is putting the emphasis on the shape of the work while focusing on the “voice”, is putting the emphasis on the meaning. So, I wish that my work could bring my voice, tell my stories and share my fears.
How much preparation do you put into before working on any project?
It depends on the project, but usually, my preparation includes several basic steps:
First, visual preparation. I would like to collect visual materials (pictures, paintings, films) dealing with the subject/place/culture I wish to explore. At this stage, I would like to be visually inspired and understand what has been done in the past on that subject. The second stage is reading. I would read any material relevant. For example, when it comes to culture; I would like to read about the traditions, history, economy, and demographics of the place and anything that can help me understand the meaning of living in that culture.
I remember a few years ago, a magazine sent me to photograph in a kibbutz of organic agriculture in Israel. Since I have a family living on a kibbutz, I knew the meaning of life in a Kibbutz, but I knew nothing about organic agriculture. So I read information online and talked to experts and learned so much. Of course, you could say that I could photograph those farmers without that preliminary knowledge, but I think that understanding what they do, helped me in creating a better visual story.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
My advice is to put less emphasis on purchasing new and advanced equipment and more emphasis on learning and inspiration. Buy books, take courses, and surround yourself with creative people.
See more of Oded’s work here.