Mission statement: “To photograph the mysteries of life through the land, up to the sky and into the depths of the oceans in a driven passion to find the equation between reality and imagination”.
Rafael was introspective as a child and at school the teachers had a great difficulty in finding his forte, although he gave full evidence of acute visual awareness. Since the age of four he expressed himself and described the surrounding world by drawing with a pencil, pen, charcoal, paints, spray or a brush over any kind of surface. Rafael was always passionate to know about all kinds of visual and plastic arts such as architecture, painting, sculpture, filmmaking and photography.
His first photographs were taken in the fall of 1988 when he was plagued with what was thought to be a brain tumor. Weeks later the doctors informed him that there is nothing more to do and that he have only one month to live. In his sorrow Rafael asked his father if he could borrow his old Konica from him and started to document the first day of the rest of his life. Against all odds, Rafael’s life was saved by a complicated operation and he was reborn eventually after seven months of isolation from the rest of the world watching how other patients came and went from the hospital on their foot or in plastic bags. This experience led Rafael to express himself by using the camera as a tool to grab the passing moments in life he almost lost. With strong determination he managed to recover, returned to high school learnt everything he missed and graduated with the rest of his class. Then he bought his first professional camera gear, traveled to East Africa and climbed on Mt. Kenya to find out that his life had only just begun.
Rafael’s professional career started at the time Saddam Hussein and his armed forces invaded to Kuwait in 1990 when he volunteered to the Israeli Air Force Intelligence and served as Aerial Photo Analyst and Military Photographer for three years and learnt into depth about the Middle East and The Israeli Arab conflict.
When he finished his army service he started an extensive travel around the world while gaining knowledge and higher education in photography, history, architecture, history of arts, geography, philosophy, theology, diving and sailing. Over the years he has crossed in his journeys six continents, lived in many of the world's major cities, and immersed himself in all manners of work and cultures. His ability to speak Hebrew, fluent English and basic Arabic have opened for him doors in many countries. This experience he believes helped him to learn to feel empathy towards his subjects and to convey to the public the reality of life through his eyes.
Rafael’s long term professional photography experience makes him comfortable working with analogue 35mm B&W and color film, slides, SLR, and panoramic, underwater and digital SLR cameras. On location, he makes use of both available light and artificial light to capture his images.
Rafael's photography work is well recognized and his images have been appeared in a large number of publications, magazines and web sites in Israel and around the world. He is currently freelancing for Israeli and overseas newspapers and magazines and is distributing and selling his images and reportages mainly through Newscom, Xinhua and Zumapress. Rafael showcased his photography at two solo exhibitions and one joint exhibition in Australia and New Zealand and he was honored by the Waitangi National Trust of NZ when three of his images became an international NZ stamps in a collectors edition.
His passion for photography and his experience in freelancing in almost all fields of photography, led Rafael to build and run along with his partner to life, an independent photography service called Chameleons Eye.
Chameleons Eye is a private owned Image Bank and Photo Assignment Service that supplies features, pictures of Israel, news photos and stock images for online and print publications in Israel and worldwide. Rafael chooses his topics and assignments independently and approaches them in his own unique way. Among his other interests, Rafael practices Vipassana meditation, teaching individuals and small group photography and gives public lecturing in his spare time.
Rafael constantly works on new photo assignments and today he is gathering new concepts for a solo exhibition
2007 Photo published in Doubletruck Magazine "World's Best News Pictures"
2006 Excellent Artist in photography from the Israeli government.
2005 Excellent Artist in photography from the Israeli government.
2003- "Untitled" - New Zealand
2003-The Decisive Moment - New Zealand
2002- A Thin Line trade - Australia.
2003 Rescue diving and underwater photography from Padi Bay of Islands NZ
1999 Bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A) in Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design- Jerusalem Israel
1995 Professional photography in New York Institute of Photography - New York USA
Scoop Magazine - Israel
Friday, August 18 2006
Article by Sarit Livne
"When he was 17 the Israeli born photographer Rafael Ben Ari experienced a severe brain infection and the doctors told him that he has one month left to live. In an instant decision he took his father's old camera (Konica) and started to document the first day of the rest of his life... Rafael's life was saved eventually and since then he is using every spare moment to live the life he had been given back and document them through his eyes. Now he is one of the busiest photographers in Israel, and every photograph of his is worth more then a thousand words."
Russell Lights-Bay of Islands, NZ
Thursday, 25 September 2003
Article by Birgitta Joy Jonsdottir
"Its like stepping into another world. The photos filled with history and details, still flash in my mind. His motives and ambience are unique; it’s obvious that he has a sense for details the rest of us tend to miss. You can find photos there to suit your whole emotional scale. Travel through his chameleon eyes into the world of the bizarre, the beautiful and the majestic."
The Northern Advocate - Northland, NZ
2 Sep, 2003 - Article by Bill MacLaren
Title: Visions through the Lens "Recommended Viewing."
"...features the brilliant work of Israeli photographer Rafael Ben-Ari. It highlights, through the extraordinary and gifted eyes of a master pictorial storyteller, the many faces and fortunes of mankind."
If you would like to learn more about the photographer Rafael Ben-Ari please visit: http://www.israeli-photographer.chameleonseye.com