Tel Aviv based Simon Elmalem combines his love of styling and a new found passion for photography to document 50 days in lockdown, shooting intimate portraits of his surroundings.

Simon started his fashion career in merchandising, eventually progressing into styling for magazines (working on iconic covers for Vogue Ukraine) and consulting for clients likes of Dodo Bar Or, Ronny Kobo, Nilli Lotan and Factory 54 . Having always been attracted to the art of photography, he decided to take a closer look at his camera while staying in Tel Aviv during the lockdown. Ina Lekiewicz talks to Simon about his transition and the art of following your dreams.

Shani Shemer swimsuit

How is the current situation in Tel Aviv looking?

Usually Tel Aviv is a beachside city, with great energy. With the current Covid-19 restrictions people can’t get in the water and and do usual beach activities. It’s interesting to see how the beachside still brings them together. People sit on the rocks by the water, drinking beer and watching the sunset. The beach is like oxygen for the city.

What inspired you to work on this project?

When I was a child, in the 70s, every Saturday we used to go the beach in the south part of Israel. I remember my mom and my aunt leaving the beach with their swimwear on, walking to my aunt’s house to cook dinner, all still dressed in beach outfits.

During lockdown I found old family albums that brought back all these memories.

Did you know the models well before you asked them to work on this project?

I met both models Dorit and May during my work as a stylist. With Dorit I had an instant connection, her smile is mesmerizing. And May looks just like Ester Ofarim, a well-known singer from the 70s in Israel, who I always admired.   

What inspired you to take a step away from styling and start photography? Is it something you wanted to do for quite a while?

Covid-19 guidelines have forced us to be creative with minimal staff on set. I was offered to do both styling and photography, once I saw the result I was inspired to continue.

It’s never been my desire to be behind the camera as a photographer, but now I really enjoy it so I’ll continue this adventure.     

While people tend to be funny about the “stylist-turned-photographer” scenario, I honestly believe styling experience gives you a great background to start shooting. What are you thoughts?

I believe you’re right. Because as a stylist you already have the vision of the final result in your head, even before the first camera clicks.    

Photography & Styling: Simon Elmalem

 Hair and Make-up: Nirit Hirschmann 

Models: May Tager, Dorit Revelis