Art photographer speaks the language of flowers... and nine others, too

“I had learned Hebrew through the Israeli consulate at the ORT, so I could read and write and bumble along well enough to buy things and get places.”

RIKI METZ in art class. (photo credit: Courtesy)
RIKI METZ in art class.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Upon her arrival in Israel in 1996, Riki Metz possessed $500 and one suitcase. Fortunately, various friends in Jerusalem hosted her and helped her get on her feet.
“People here were incredibly kind,” she says.
Perhaps she could have remained in India a few more years to build a bigger nest egg. But having already invested eight years in the process of converting to Judaism, her options in Mumbai had narrowed to near zero.
“There wasn’t really much of a place for someone Orthodox in India. Life there is not geared to being shomer [observant of] Shabbat,” Metz explains. “I davened [prayed] with the Iraqi community in Mumbai, but everyone was elderly because the younger generation has left for other countries. So what was I to do? I had to think of my future.”
Born in Sheffield, England, and raised in India, Metz had been searching for her spiritual home since the age of 11. That search, she says, was sparked by the death of her grandfather. Over the years she read a lot, talked to many people, and explored faiths including Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Islam.
Ironically, while standing in the courtyard of a church she had what she describes as “a spiritual experience that led me to Judaism.” Just two weeks later, emissaries from the American Joint Distribution Committee arrived in Mumbai and she began studying with them.
Metz moved to Israel and completed her conversion in 1997 through the Haifa Rabbinate under the guidance of the late Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, founder and director of Amishav, an organization that worked to repatriate Jews and Jews by choice from distant lands such as India.
“I had learned Hebrew through the Israeli consulate at the ORT, so I could read and write and bumble along well enough to buy things and get places,” she relates.
Not long after officially becoming a member of the tribe, she met her future husband, Dr. Howard Metz, at a Lag Ba’omer singalong on the Jerusalem promenade.
“He was introduced to me by my flat mate, who had studied with him in Penn State University,” she explains. “Actually, there were three men there that night who were interested in me. But only Howie noticed I was chilly and lent me his jacket.”
They married in August 1997, and moved to Beit Shemesh in 2001. They have two daughters: Nediva, 17, and Liel, 13, both students in AMIT Noga. Howie Metz is a dentist and a talented actor who has performed in more than 40 theater productions with 15 different English-speaking companies.
Until 2017, Riki Metz worked as a massage therapist. At that point, she decided to pursue art photography as a full-time endeavor.
She had studied art and photography in Mumbai and resumed photography in 2012, focusing on flowers and plants. She taught herself Photoshop and used her painting and digital skills to create unique botanical art.
“I’VE ALWAYS loved flowers,” she says. “We have an amazing variety of them in Israel. We are the world’s #10 flower grower.”
Working under the creative name “Jipsi Immanuelle,” Metz recently had her first exhibition, at the Association of Americans and Canadians (AACI) in Jerusalem. She sells her work on her website ( and on the Fine Art America online marketplace.
“I photograph indoors using a tripod. I use an entry-level DSLR [digital single-lens reflex] camera with a dedicated macro lens. I focus on a particular flower or aspect of a flower and work till the battery runs out,” she says.
She then chooses a few shots that stand out from the rest and gives them what she calls “the supermodel treatment” in Photoshop. She plays with the hues and forms, adding special effects.
“Flower photography, like food photography, is about creating a sense of joy and wonder for the viewer. I have a ‘wow’ feeling when I look at a flower and want to convey that emotion to the person looking at it,” Metz explains.
“When I look at flowers, I see man’s fragility and resilience, nature’s optimism and abundance, and God’s paintbrush at work in the world. Every flower is a portrait of a life lived too briefly and forgotten,” she relates on her website.
Metz also enjoys word puzzles and writing poetry. The biblical poetry of Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes has a special place in her heart.
Although she is fluent in English because that’s the language in which she was taught in school, her mother tongue is Gujarati.
“I also know Hindi, India’s national language; Marathi, the language of the state of Maharashtra, in which Mumbai is located; and Sanskrit, the language of the Indian scriptures. I learned Urdu – which resembles Hindi but is written in Arabic and spoken widely in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan – as well as Spanish and Hebrew. And I am presently learning Russian.”
An only child, Metz goes back to India every year to visit her mother and her large extended family. She misses the colorful foods, fabrics and crafts of the land in which she was raised. In contrast to Israel (“It’s a very fractured society in which various groups do not have anything to do with each other”), she appreciates the fact that Indians from different communities socialize with one another. She says Indians generally are calmer and more patient than Israelis.
Nevertheless, she finds Israelis to be warm and helpful. And she is encouraged by the reactions to her first show. It’s not easy to make a name in flower photography.
Flowers are the most photographed thing in the world and people who sell their art prints are competing with those who sell their photos on stock photo sites. Furthermore, there are one trillion photos downloaded on social media, so for anyone to find your work is like finding a needle in a haystack. But now I have a body of printed work I can send out to places and I am satisfied that I have reached a professional level in less than two years.”