The first visual concept of this photo project came to me when I wasn't ready for it, even before I understood that I had found my mechanism to deal with my troubled mind. It occurred while I was following Paul down the U-Bahn, heading towards Zoo Station. This epiphany was merely an associative pun, a playful distortion of the most mundane sign lying right before my feet. All it did was give me a brief respite from the heavy and pensive noise in my head, which I was trying to rationalize in order to make sense of it all. This sensation I was experiencing was truly strange. Having traveled to over 50 countries during my backpacking days, this country felt notably different.
Anyway, I had brought two cameras with me that day. As I looked down, I saw the silver platform of the escalator, and there it was—the famous Oscar-winning feature film: Schindler's Lifts! Finally, a little grin escaped me. I pulled out the camera and captured what would later become the first image of this project.
It just made me smile, a much-needed one, for that matter. It felt so good to smile again; it felt like I hadn't smiled for years. How crazy does that sound? But never mind that - the important thing was that it immediately gave me a shred of confidence to start looking up and around, not just at old people, but at the young ones too.
Humor was always used in our family. And I'm not proud, or ashamed of it; I'm just stating it for what it is. For example, when my brother first told me around 2004 that they were leaving for Germany, the first thing I said, out of all the things I could have said or asked, was, "Well, bro, if there's a German Shepherd standing next to a soldier at the train station, it's probably better to take the bus."
As I turned away from him and continued on, I immediately thought to myself, what a strange and silly thing to say. But it was funny. Funny enough to sugarcoat the fact that he was leaving.
I knew this approach would be key for me to be able to continue delving deeper into various facets, reading stories I knew, some I had read or heard about. I began searching for the perfect Schindler Lifts logo and platform, reshooting it in different locations, each with its own set of problems. Sometimes it was the condition of the platform, sometimes the lighting, and rarely the location. My biggest challenge was the constant shake of the platform, which prevented me from achieving a crystal-sharp photograph.
Eventually, a miracle happened to me at a train station in Tel Aviv. As I finished setting up and had no idea how to solve the platform shake once again, a maintenance guy approached me. He pulled out a key and, as he inserted it into some secret socket on the staircase, he apologized to me that he had to turn off the escalator for a while. He asked if I wanted to go down with the tripod, and if so, he would wait. I told him to wait no longer! He stopped the staircase for a few minutes, completely shutting it down, and gave me all the time I needed and more to capture this image. I loved everything about this setup. Solutions come in mysterious ways.
In this final photograph, I loved the dry seed, the relatively clean and newish state of the platform. Those black, grey, and white stripes seemed like a far stretch, but they were there, doc. They were there... Everything came out so sharp! And to top it all off, unlike the usually harsh and high-contrast light we tend to experience, in this roofless train station, the sun can be harsh. But on that day, the light was nice and soft.
A Perfect day to start seeing things differently, and I like the result of my first photograph!