COLlive.com presents Art & Soul featuring renowned and up and coming visual artists who specialize in Jewish and Chassidic scenes and themes, and showcase their works. The feature is presented in cooperation with the Leviim Jewish Art Gallery in Crown Heights.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Nachman Hellman. I live in Monsey, NY. I was a late bloomer – I was 34 when I began photography. I am not a photographer by trade; I manage properties for a living.
How did you get into art?
I always had an appreciation for art; even as a child, I enjoyed looking at art, but I had never put that interest into practice. My artistic side was dormant for a long while. Eventually, the Ribono Shel Olam awakened it inside of me.
I went on a trip to Eretz Yisroel with a few friends. My friends decided to take a day trip to the Yam Hamelach (Dead Sea), and for whatever reason, I didn’t go. Instead, I walked the streets of Yerushalayim with a camera. When I got home, I printed a few photos I had captured in the old city. When people visited, they would ask me where I got these photos. They didn’t believe me when I said I took them myself.
The photo that launched my photography career is the photo of a boy running down the street in the old city.
My wife, who is an artist, also brought out within me my dormant artistic side.
What is your favorite part of being an artist?
My favorite part of photography is capturing a moment in time which will never happen again. You get to put your interpretation of the moment; not everyone will see the same thing when they are looking at a scene. Good photographers, the ones I admire, see things very differently than most people do. None of my art is staged; it’s all spontaneous. While I appreciate portraits of people, I have no interest in taking portraits; it’s not my niche.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Time. Traveling is time-consuming, and you need to go places to capture photos.
What work are you the proudest of?
The photograph I took which touched the most people is the one of the Kosel Hama’aravi just after sunrise. In my mind’s eye, I had envisioned this photo long before I took it. With Hashem’s help, I managed to capture the image after about four attempts; pointing a camera directly into the sun for a photograph is far from easy. I’ve received tremendous positive feedback about that picture; many women have told me that they daven at home facing that photo.
What is your dream project?
It sounds a bit ludicrous, but I’d like to photograph every single shul in the world. As I mentioned earlier, a project of this magnitude would take a lot of time, as well as a large financial investment, but this is something I dream of being able to accomplish someday.
For more information visit leviimart.com