Yoav Lemmer

In August 2007, NPR featured a story entitled One Year Later, Vestiges of War Fading in Israel, about life on the border between Israel and Palestine one year after the 2006 invasion of Lebanon. Accompanying the story was a photograph so beautiful that, at first, I temporarily forgot the subject matter. An Israeli plane was dropping fire-retardant where Hezbollah rockets had fallen. The contrast between the photographic artistry and the violent confrontation it depicted was profound.

Yoav Lemmer, AFP/Getty ImagesThe photographer’s name is Yoav Lemmer, and he seems to work for the Agence France-Press. He photographs life and conflict in and around Israel/Palestine, Sudan and Eritrea, and other parts of the developing world. I did a quick internet search and, although I couldn’t find a biography, his photography is ubiquitous, most often labeled AFP and appearing mostly in French news publications.

One of the most striking photos was Settler’s Block, taken in 2004 and depicting Israeli border police in a confrontation with Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The sheer amount of action, the posture and facial expressions of the people, the upright, armored horses of the border guard, and the overcast, moody-blue haze give the picture all the texture of a painting in the Louvre, a romantic hearkening to Napoleon or ancient Rome, with one difference. The photo shows reality without the filter effect of a fat commission from a wealthy patron, a reality where each side is flawed and has much to lose, and where there is no obvious winner or solution.

Mr. Lemmer’s images, and there are thousands of them, are available at Getty Images.

Also posted on my Newsvine column.

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