Gai Shtienberg · Hard Land

Feb 01, 2021

Gai is an Israeli photographer who uses the medium as a way to nourish and inspire his soul. In his series 'Hard Land', Gai travels to the most remote places in his country in order to capture the impacts of human activity on the landscape throughout history. In his carefully composed images, we can observe a scarred landscape where the human-made clashes with nature in an attempt for domination, but with nature always pushing back. In this way, these images act as reminder that we should be working in a harmonious relationship with nature, rather than fighting it.

am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

GS - Hi I am Gai, 38 years old from Israel. I have a BA and MA in Geography and Environment and am currently working in the water infrastructure field. I have been photographing for the last eleven years.


am - How did you start in photography?

GS - I took my first course in photography with my dad when I was 16 years old. Then some years passed until in my mid-twenties and travelling around the world, I went back to take pictures. In 2010, back home, I decided to take a couple of documentary photography courses and I've been taking photos ever since.


am - What does photography mean to you?

GS - My grandfather loved writing poems, he used to say that everyone should create something for the soul, it can be by drawing, writing, cooking, working with wood, it doesn’t really matter. I use photography to create and to inspire my soul. Photography opens my eyes, sharpens my senses. It helps me looking better at the world and seeing beauty even where there isn’t much.

am - What is 'Hard Land' about?

GS - ‘Hard land’ is an ongoing project I have been working on for the past 5 years. It’s a personal trip around my country, an exploration within the Israeli landscape, a landscape that is truly influenced by its history.

Equipped with a medium format 6X7 analog camera, I've travelled to marginal areas of the country aiming to capture the influences of the relationship between humans and their surroundings and those among themselves. The impact of these relationships is what created the unique scarred landscape of this land.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

GS - I don’t have a specific one. I like looking at the work of Joel Sternfeld, Alex Webb, Bryan Schutmaat, but many others as well.


am - What is your favourite movie?

GS - Mmm… It's hard to say. The first one that pops in my mind is ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri’ by Martin McDonagh, but of course there are so many others as well.


am - What is your favourite photo book?

GS - From the classics: ‘American Prospects’ by Joel Sternfeld, ‘Uncommon Places’ by Stephen Shore, ‘The Suffering of light’ by Alex Webb and ‘The Last Resort’ by Martin Parr. From the newer books: ‘ZZYZX’ by Gregory Halpern, ‘Grays the Mountain Sends’ by Bryan Schutmaat, ‘Bastard Countryside’ by Robin Friend, ‘Somewhere Along The Line’ by Joshua Dudley Greer and ‘An Archeology of Fear and Desire’ by Frédéric Brenner.


am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.

GS - Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be here.

All images © Gai Shtienberg


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