Two years ago, I arrived in the Gaza Strip fully anticipating the most depressing scenes. Wary of my presence and confident that nobody would appreciate a camera documenting their private struggles, I set my camera up for stealth shots that would get me in and out of a situation fast. But I quickly learned what few outside of Gaza seem to realize: Despite the siege and occupation, Gaza is vibrant with life and love. I changed my camera settings and my mindset and embraced the colorful energy in the Gaza Strip.
This summer, in 2013, I crossed through Rafah with my camera pointed up not down. I wanted to capture the dignity and strength of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from the very start. I wanted to share their emotions just as much as their stories. I also wanted to capture the mysterious glow that illuminates Gaza even when the sun hides behind the curvature of the sea.
I wish I could show you what my eyes saw. But the best I can do is show you what my camera saw. I hope it shows you Gaza like you’ve never seen it before.
A horse rears up on the beach in Gaza City as families begin to arrive with packed dinners to break their fasts on the shore.
A man sits in the entrance to his home in the Gaza Strip. One traditional architectural feature of homes in the Gaza Strip are these long and open hallway entrances that lead from the gates facing the street all the way to the main door of the building.
The sun sets on the Gaza Strip, behind the low waves of the Mediterranean Sea.
Four shopkeepers take a break and discuss religion in a Gaza market.
A young man brushes dirt and dust off of homegrown peaches and prepares them for sale. A sweet, peachy aroma filled the air in his section of Gaza’s busy city-center market.
A young woman from Gaza City walks by a toy display on the sidewalk.
A boy in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip props himself against a graffitied wall as he poses for the camera.
A colored light shines through the entrance of a building in the Remal district of Gaza City.
Just hours before sunset, a butcher prepares meat for families set to break their fast.
Three hands converge at this storefront near Tel El Hawa in the Gaza Strip. One hand rests, one hand swings, and one hand shyly extends, asking for any support or donation the storeowner might be able to provide. Many in Gaza have noticed a dramatic rise in homelessness following Israel’s blockade of the territory.
A young boy from the Gaza Strip enjoys a lollipop and smiles for the camera.
Malak lovingly runs to the camera after playing with small crabs at Gaza’s port.
Construction workers repair a wall and its adjacent sidewalk late into the night in Gaza City. The Gaza Strip has seen a major renovation and reconstruction campaign over the last two years. Newly paved roads, new sidewalk blocks, and newly constructed buildings are almost exclusively built with materials smuggled through the crucial lifeline tunnels running between Rafah and Egypt.
A young boy who locked himself out of his home uses a wooden plank he found in the street to press a buzzer. The reason for the wink cannot be disclosed.
Two fishermen on a small boat maneuver themselves through Gaza’s relaxed waters.
Gaza City’s modest skyline contrasts with the vibrant blue sky.
A young boy from Gaza City relaxes on a chair outside of his father’s store.
Because of the frequent power cuts in the Gaza Strip, residents use powerful flashlights to illuminate their homes. The batteries charge when electricity is available and can usually last until the electricity returns if used sparingly.
A boy dons a Lionel Messi jersey as he does cartwheels and flips along Gaza’s beach.
The moon glows over Palestine behind a thin cloud cover one night in late July.