Vadim Onishchenko shows photo 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Yael Pesotchinski)
Before Facebook and Twitter, when people came back from vacation, they would
gather their friends together to watch a slide show. These photos were the best
souvenir, the wow factor, the proof of a successful trip. Even now, maybe even
more so than before, pictures are an invaluable part of any
For Vadim Onishchenko, every trip starts and ends with
photography. CEO of the Photolight Gallery and online portal, which he founded
in 2005, Onishchenko has devoted the past decade to bringing the art of
photography to the forefront of Israeli culture. As an organization, Photolight
offers an online platform for local photographers to showcase their work,
troubleshoot with other professionals and collaborate with their
peers. Through the site, photographers can order prints of their photos,
find models and sell their work. At present, there are over 20,000 active
members on the site.
Last month, Onishchenko opened the doors of the
south Tel Aviv location with an inaugural exhibit entitled The Magic of Kenya
The show, which drew photography buffs from around the country, featured images
captured by Onishchenko over a handful of trips to one of his favorite
The online expression of Photolight’s activities includes
photography competitions for members. Breathtaking photos fill the website’s
Photo Of The Day and Photo Of The Week slots, from both professional and amateur
photographers. In addition, an ongoing contest entitled Animals in Nature
is currently under way, which will culminate in a group exhibition by the top 30
contestants as chosen by a professional committee.
“The winner will get
to do a private show here in the gallery, which we will fully produce,” said
Now, with their brand new gallery space, Photolight will
begin to invite members to present their work in a more formal
“This is one of the first photography galleries in Israel,”
explained a very proud Onishchenko. “In this country, photography isn’t
considered an art form like it is abroad. There is no bachelor’s [degree]
program for photography in Israel. The resources available to photographers are
incredibly limited. We aim to change that.”
Onishchenko is a vibrant
individual. As he spoke about his trips to Kenya, including a trip with his now
eightyear- old daughter to see the animals, his eyes sparkled.
“I go to
Kenya every August,” he said. “I took my daughter for the first time when she
was five years old. I love that place.”
A travel enthusiast, Onishchenko
offers organized trips for his fellow photographers.
“I went with an
organized group to Kenya years ago,” said Onishchenko of his inspiration for
“It was my first trip to the country and it was awful.
They drove us around for hours without seeing anything. We decided to offer
trips as a result of that bad trip.”
Each trip is carefully planned to
create the optimal conditions for photographers.
“It takes three to four
months to plan each trip,” said Onishchenko. “Unlike a lot of organized trips,
we take all of the major elements into account, such as light and
In the coming months, Photolight will dispatch delegations of
photographers to the Czech Republic, China, Jordan and Kyrgyzstan.
lover of animals, a longtime dream of Onishchenko’s is to capture the elusive
snow leopard on film.
“I’ve been longing to photograph this animal for
years. He’s a tough creature to find but he’s worth the trouble,” beamed
Onishchenko. A known family of snow leopards currently inhabits the mountains in
Kyrgyzstan, he said.
Another of Onishchenko’s lifelong aspirations is
also in the making. Photolight is currently laying the groundwork for an epic
trip to Antarctica.
“In 2013 or 2014 we will offer a trip to Antarctica.
It’s a hard trip to plan for obvious reasons. We hope to photograph polar bears
there,” he said.
As the glorious tableaus of The Magic of Kenya
removed from Photolight’s walls, a new exhibit is already being canvassed. This
show, which corresponds with Street Life, the second ongoing competition on the
website, is a look at the Israeli urban existence. The Reality of Life
work of photographer Yair Green and will be on display starting next
week.The Photolight Gallery is located at 42 Menachem Begin Street in
Tel Aviv. For more information, visit www.photolight.co.il.