“It’s not easy to come up with words to go with the pictures,” said Micha Bar Am, an Israeli photojournalist whose images have covered nearly every aspect of life in Israel over the past 70 years.
Born in Berlin, Germany in 1930, Bar Am immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1936. A self-taught photographer, he used a simple notebook and camera to learn by trial and error on a kibbutz in the early 1940s.
Since the 1956 Sinai Campaign when he borrowed a camera and a handful of film, and produced his first book, “Across Sinai,” he has photographed multiple Israeli wars. Since 1968, he has been a correspondent for Magnum Photos. In 1974, he helped Robert Capa found the International Center of Photography in New York City.
In 1968, Bar-Am became the photographic correspondent from Israel for the New York Times, a position he held until 1992. From 1977 to 1992, he was head of the department of photography at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Bar Am, whose work is displayed in various international museums and institutes around the world, is a man of few words. At a recent press conference in Jerusalem, he presented his accumulated work over the years, with very little commentary or captions.
He told Breaking Israel News, “Photography is the art of dealing with what you see. Photographers want to show something in a light that will explain or make [a situation] easier to understand. The photographs should speak for themselves.”
He said he “wanted to be an adventurer and here, and I got one of the biggest adventures that I could have asked for.”
Here are some of Bar Am’s photographs he took on his many adventures, documenting the State of Israel from its beginnings: