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Familial Snapshots: Representing Palestine in the Work of the

First Local Photographers

Nassar, Issam.

History & Memory, Volume 18, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2006, pp.

139-155 (Article)

Published by Indiana University Press

For additional information about this article

Access Provided by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at 10/01/10 7:04AM GMT

Familial Snapshots
Representing Palestine in the Work of
the First Local Photographers

Issam Nassar

This essay examines the ways in which the introduction of photography as a local
practice in Palestine from the late nineteenth century affected the way Palestinians
saw, imagined and presented themselves in photographs. The essay narrates the
history of the inception of photography as a local career in Palestine by tracing the
activities of the first known local photographers. In this context, it critically quest-
tions the notions of local and non-local before examining the specific ways in which
photography was employed within the larger context of Palestinian society.

Late Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine was a land in transformat-

tion. The political events of the period, along with the increasing impact
of modernization, affected its political economy, the growth of urban
centers and the entirety of its social landscape. Moreover, the arrival
from Europe of new inventions would influence the way people lived
and thought about their lives. The musician Wasif Jawhariyya, who kept
a diary about his life in Jerusalem and its vicinity from 1904 until he was
uprooted from Palestine in 1948, described the introduction of such
new products as the kerosene stove, the gaslight, block ice, the theater,
the phonograph and cinematograph.1 He also recorded, among many
other events, the arrival of the first automobile in Jerusalem in 1912, as
well as the attempted landing of an Ottoman military airplane in 1914.2
Jawhariyya’s diary provides us with a glimpse of the impact that these
inventions had on people’s lives.

Issam Nassar

Photography had arrived in Palestine several decades earlier, at a

time when the country, which was divided into two administrative districts
(sanjaks), was still a provincial region within a larger empire, far away from
the economic, cultural and political center of the Ottoman state, which
had ruled it since 1517. Indeed, despite its gradual growth in importance,
Palestine’s weight in the life of the empire was not yet much greater than
that of any other region its size. However, the religious significance of
the district of Jerusalem, which included at the time an area extending
from Hebron to Nazareth, gave it a special aura for Muslim, Christians
and Jews. Political events connected with the rise of colonial interests in
the Ottoman empire, along with the Egyptian conquest of Syria, which
included Palestine, in 1831–40, signaled the beginning of a new era. The
other side of Ottoman openness was the onset of persistent European
involvement in the affairs of Palestine, which would have a major political
and social impact in the region.3
Crucial in shaping the nature of this European involvement was
Palestine’s religious significance. The prominent place that its “holy citi-
ies” occupied in the Christian religious imagination was reflected in the
European perception of Jerusalem as the center of the world, not just
in a metaphorical sense, but also geographically, as illustrated by various
maps from the late middle ages. The city and region where Jesus had lived
and died seemed to arouse an ever-growing interest in Christian Europe:
over two thousand books on Palestine were published in Europe—and
America—between 1800 and 1878,4 and numerous European travelers
and expeditions arrived to explore the Holy Land.
It is in this context of renewed European interest in the Holy Land
that photography was introduced in Palestine. A European development
rather than a modernizing trend that emerged from within Ottoman
Palestine itself, the arrival of photography was, like the advent of modern-
nity in general, largely the result of political and social processes whose
center of gravity lay in distant places. It also indicated the arrival of new
times. Early photographic interest in the Holy Land was closely linked to
a complex web of European connections to the Middle East at large as
well as to Palestine itself—in particular colonial and scientific interest in
the region, the romantic passion for exotic sites, and a revived Christian
interest in biblical studies and archaeology.5

Familial Snapshots

As was the case with the earlier experiences of modernization in Europe,

in Palestine too it was closely related to transformed technologies of
knowledge. Photography, one of the earliest of a series of inventions that
would alter the way people related to time and space, constituted also one
of the first signs of the arrival of the age of modernity in the region. It was
followed by a number of inventions, such as the telegraph, the telephone,
the bicycle, the automobile and the airplane, which also became powerful
signs of the modern industrial and “rational” age. The subsequent shift
from Ottoman to British rule after World War I in itself further fostered
considerable growth and development in the urban sector. For under the
British Mandate, Palestine ceased to be the small provincial region within
a vast empire that it had been under the Ottomans. It emerged, instead,
as a country with a central government, with influence over neighboring
regions, with its own railway system and eventually its own airport.
But if the impact of the introduction of these technologies in the
region can, to an extent, be imagined or inferred, the case of photograp-
phy is more complicated. True, like other inventions it changed the way
people related to time and space; but it also specifically affected memory
and the organization of knowledge, hence modes of shaping the past
and, with it, the present. Indeed, the introduction of photography in the
region by the Europeans would give them a certain strategic advantage
in redefining or reconstructing the history of the “Holy Land.” At the
same time, photography would play a key role in the formation of the
Palestinian collective memory. As evident by the recent use of photograp-
phy by both contemporary Palestinian historians and by representatives
of the national movement, old photographs became a central component
of the Palestinian representation of the past.6 Furthermore, photography
affected people’s image of themselves and their surroundings, as will
become evident below.
In December 1839, the very same year in which Louis Daguerre
announced the invention of photography to the world, Horace Vernet and
Frédéric Goupil-Fesquet arrived in Palestine to photograph the land. By
the middle of the century, pictures of the country, primarily of Jerusalem,
Bethlehem and Nazareth, were already popular in Europe and its North
American colonies. Depictions of Jerusalem in particular were more readi-
ily available, in both art galleries and photographic exhibits, than those
of any other Asian or African city, with the possible exception of Cairo.

Issam Nassar

Photographs of Jerusalem were exhibited alongside those of Paris and

London, and images of Palestine were often printed, or glued, in Bibles
and Sunday school books.7
Hundred of photographers—most of them Europeans—worked in
the Middle East from 1839 to the end of the century. While the precise
number of amateur photographers who took pictures of Palestine in
the nineteenth century cannot be estimated, it seems to have been very
large.8 These photographs of Palestine clearly show that early photograp-
phers seem, as a rule, to have performed broadly similar functions and
served a similar clientele. In most cases they produced photographs that
corresponded with the image of the country as a Holy Land in order to
sell them abroad or to visiting pilgrims. Although visiting photographers
from Europe dominated the scene for many years, a different group of
photographers gradually emerged who were either from the region or had
resided in it for some time. As we will see, some of them continued the
type of work undertaken by the first visiting photographers, while others
began to employ photography in new ways. But contrary to what might
be assumed, there was no clear correlation between the diverging trends
and the photographers’ origins, and no neat distinction can be drawn
between foreigners and natives of the area.

What is local photography?

The focus of the present essay on local photography in Palestine necess-

sarily implies such a classification into local and non-local, but it requires
us to rethink this very distinction. The situation of nineteenth-century
Palestine blurs such distinctions, making them of little heuristic value.
According to the millet system, the non-Muslim inhabitants of Palestine
were organized into their respective religious communities and granted
a large measure of internal religious and legal autonomy. This made the
local vs. foreigner dichotomy highly problematic, especially in cases where
photographers were Ottoman citizens but not from Palestine, since belongi-
ing to a recognized millet already established in the sultanate was more
important than actual place of birth. In other words, an Armenian who
was not born in Palestine would have felt at home there simply because

Familial Snapshots

there was already an Armenian community that would have welcomed

him as one of its members.
Studies of early photography of Palestine tend to highlight the
work of European photographers, and in more recent times the work
of Zionist Jewish photographers. Only a handful of studies mention the
contributions made by Palestinian—Arab or Armenian—photographers.
The often deliberate erasure of the Palestinians from Palestine and its hist-
tory appears to have infected historians of photography as well. Although
it is important to reinsert Palestinian photographers and their work into
Palestinian history for obvious political reasons, their work also merits
a study on its own because it stood out as rather different from that of
their visiting European counterparts, who appear to have focused almost
exclusively on Palestine’s biblical heritage, or even from that of the early
Zionist Jewish photographers, which was largely devoted to the daily life
and politics of the Jewish Yishuv (community in Palestine), rather than
on the lives of the native Arab population and society.
Still, despite the obvious difference in subject matter, a clear-cut
distinction between Palestinian, Jewish and European photographers is
not as simple as it first appears, for, no matter who they were, they all
often catered to the needs of their customers and in doing so crossed the
assumed boundaries between the various types of photography. Finally,
the implantation of photography in the region progressed through the
creation of mixed production sites and heterogeneous groups of practit-
tioners. Photography, introduced to the region by Europeans, established
itself as a local craft. The earliest photographic establishments were establ-
lished in the late 1860s by Europeans who had moved to the region. The
Bonfils studio in Beirut, the Zangaki studio in Port Sa’id, Pascal Sebah in
Istanbul, and later the American Colony photographic establishment in
Jerusalem in the early twentieth century were some such examples. Those
establishments often employed local apprentices who would eventually
take up the trade.9
Nonetheless, the Ottoman census shows that there were practici-
ing local photographers in Palestine as early as 1877. In his thorough
study of Palestine in the late nineteenth century, Alexander Scholch lists
four photographers—described as three local Greek Orthodox and one
Armenian—who worked in Jerusalem in 1877; only a year earlier they
had numbered two (described as local Christians).10 So who were local

Issam Nassar

photographers—and what does this appellation mean? According to the

New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a local is a person who has an
attachment to a certain locality with “interests arising out of such attachm-
ment.”11 In his discussion of locality, Arjun Appadurai argues that it is
connected more to relations and contexts than to places and location.
Locality is essentially a quality that is “constituted by a series of links
between the sense of social immediacy, the technologies of interactivity,
and the relativity of contexts.”12 In other words, locality becomes an issue
related more to social context than to physical place. It is the context in
which images were produced, exchanged, viewed and assigned meanings
that must be placed at the core of our attempt to discern what is local about
them. According to this approach, the subject of the photograph becomes
crucial since it is very clear that the different markets of exchange were
interested only in what the image depicted and its subject’s relation to a
particular community of viewers. Christian Europe, for instance, was far
more interested in Holy Land images than in the people of Palestine.
Hence, it was the image and not the photographer that mattered
most. If the picture depicted the desired image, then it was in demand
regardless of who produced it. It is for this reason that, in examining the
emergence of local photography, it is fruitless to focus exclusively on the
national, ethnic or religious identity of the photographers at the expense
of the work they produced and its relation to the local society. Whether
the photographers were Armenians, Arabs, European residents, Muslims,
Christians or Jews, what confers on them the quality of local is essentially
the work they produced—and its relationship to local topics, perspect-
tives, interests and publics. If their work reflected the fabric of Palestinian
society at the time by representing its life from within and catered to the
local demand for photographs instead of simply catering to the market
demand for Holy Land paraphernalia, it can be considered local phot-
tography. In other words, local photography would be any photography
that represented social life in Palestine as opposed to the depictions of
biblical landscapes, on the one hand, and Zionist photography, which
tended to focus almost exclusively on the Jewish settlement project in
Palestine, on the other. In this sense, the photographs of Ramallah taken
by the American Elihu Grant between 1901 and 1904 can be termed local
photography. Not only do they capture life in the town but they were

Familial Snapshots

also produced for the benefit of the town—despite the fact that Grant
himself was an outsider.13

The emergence of a local practice

Although the overwhelming majority of nineteenth-century photographers

working in Palestine were either Europeans or Ottoman subjects from
regions far away from Palestine, a distinctly local photographic tradit-
tion began to emerge toward the end of the nineteenth century. Several
photographic studios had been established in Jerusalem and Jaffa by the
turn of the century, and by the time of the British conquest in 1917/18,
photography was already a local craft, and a number of photographic
establishments in a handful of cities served a growing demand for photog-
graphs within Palestine.14
The beginnings of local photography in Palestine can be traced
back to the early 1860s when, at the Armenian convent of St. James in
Jerusalem, the Armenian Patriarch Yessayi Garabedian established what
would become the nucleus of local photographic practice. In the early
1860s Garabedian had started courses in photography within the church
compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1863 he left Jerusalem for
Europe, where he visited Manchester, London and Paris and kept abreast
of the latest developments in photography. His return to Jerusalem later
that year and subsequent appointment as patriarch did not “dampen his
enthusiasm for photography.”15
Many of Garabedian’s students went on to practice professionally
and soon controlled the local market. One of them was Garabed Krikor-
rian, one of the earliest local photographers in Jerusalem, who in 1885
opened the first photographic studio in Palestine.16 The studio, which was
located outside Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, soon became an
important photographic establishment out of which a new generation
of photographers would emerge. Even the location of the studio would
acquire special significance, for most of the photographic studios subseq-
quently established were also located in the vicinity of Krikorian’s studio.17
At the time when Krikorian opened his shop, the area outside Jaffa Gate
was Jerusalem’s “Central Station.” Not only was it packed with horse carr-
riages, cars and travelers arriving from nearby villages as well as from Jaffa

Issam Nassar

and Bethlehem, but it was next to Hotel Fast, perhaps the most important
hotel in Jerusalem at the time, and Thomas Cook’s Travel Office. It is
reasonable to assume that Krikorian chose this particular site for his shop
because of the area’s function as the main tourist stop in town, and the
other photographic studios followed suit. After all, Holy Land pictures
were in demand all around the world. Krikorian’s shop remained open
under the management of his son Johannes until it was lost in 1948 after
the division of the city between Jordan and Israel and the transformation
of the location into the dangerous no-man’s land that separated the two
parts of Jerusalem.
The same fate befell Krikorian’s main competitor, the photographer
Khalil Ra’ad, whose shop was across the street from Krikorian’s. As far
as we know, Ra’ad was the first Arab photographer in Palestine. He was
first introduced to photography when he was an apprentice at Krikorian’s
studio. In the early 1890s he opened his own shop and later decided to
study photography in Switzerland. Following his return to Jerusalem, he
was appointed the official photographer of the Ottoman army.
Khalil Ra’ad became known for his studio portraits as well as for his
photographs of family events. Edward Said recalls in his memoirs how his
own family used to have their portraits taken by Ra’ad in Jerusalem. Said
presents us with a detailed description of what he called “the demanding
rigor of Khalil Ra’ad’s hooded tripod camera.” Ra’ad, who is described as
“a slightly built white-haired man,” used to take “a great deal of time [to
arrange] the large group of family and guests into acceptable order.”18
Around the same time as Krikorian and Ra’ad had their studios in
Jerusalem, the photographers Daoud Sabonji and Issa Sawabini opened
up their own photographic establishments in Jaffa. We do not know if the
first was connected with the famous Sabonji photographers in Beirut at
the time, although it seems plausible. Sawabini, however, was a native of
Jaffa who learnt the trade during his university education in Russia. He
had what appears to be a vibrant photographic career judging by the many
photographs found in family collections that have his signature affixed on
them. Sawabini’s Jewish apprentice, a certain Rachman, would also become
an important photographer in Jaffa and neighboring Tel Aviv.19 By the
end of the Ottoman period all three major cities of Palestine, Haifa, Jaffa
and Jerusalem, had a number of photographic studios. The presence of
professional local photographers in the early twentieth century points to

Familial Snapshots

the birth of a new photographic tradition with respect to the way in which
Palestine and its people were depicted in early European photography.
In what follows, I will examine the photographic practice of the three
early photographers of Palestine, Krikorian, Ra’ad and Sawabini. Although
the first two also did much work for the tourist market that was no differe-
ent from that produced by their earlier European counterparts—images
of holy sites, religious ceremonies, reenactment of biblical stories, visits of
statesmen and views of the major cities—there was another part of their
work that catered to a different clientele, and therefore less known. Indeed,
the bulk of the work of these three photographers was connected to the
life of their communities. They photographed personal, family and other
social occasions and documented political changes in Palestine throughout
their careers. Although the early European photographers—particularly
residents with studios in the region—also produced some portraits of local
people and photographs of social events, they did so with an eye to the
tourist market interested in biblical images.
Early European portrait photography in Palestine tended to ignore,
or even obliterate, the individual identity of the people portrayed. The
subjects of photographs by Tancrède Dumas, the Bonfils studio and others
were often depicted not as particular individuals but as representatives of
“types” of people living in the Holy Land. The choice of pose, setting,
object and subject was in the hands of the photographer. In contrast, in
local photography, the object of the picture was his or her own subject: it
was they who decided to be photographed and chose the pose and image
in which they would appear. Interestingly, however, they often imitated
images they had seen in early European photography. For example, it was
not uncommon for urban women to be photographed dressed as Bedouins
or Bethlehemites (figure 1). The studios of Krikorian and Ra’ad, among
others, had a number of costumes at the disposal of their customers who
could choose to be photographed in the guise of other “more exotic”
locals. This habit might be explained by the fact that many of the customers
of the early local studios were more likely to be from the wealthy urban
segments of Palestinian society. It appears that the newly emerging class
of urban aristocracy had fully adopted European attire and lifestyle and,
along with it, the perception of peasants and Bedouins as exotic Orientals.
Even though the resulting image could in many cases be very similar to
those commonly produced by European photographers, the role of the

Issam Nassar

Fig. 1. Najla Krikorian as a Bedouin woman. A studio portrait

by Johannes Krikorian, Jerusalem, 1921.20

individual being photographed—as a passive object or as an active part-

ticipant in the choice of subject—remains an important distinction in the
context of the present discussion. The ease with which such local subjects
posed in front of the camera, when contrasted with the unknown models,
is quite remarkable.
Several trends can be discerned in the practice of early local phot-
tographers. The first and perhaps the most common was the production
of family portraits, which was rather common first among Christian Arab
families but was soon adopted by rich urban Muslim families as early
as the 1920s. Such photographs would typically depict the head of the
household—i.e. the man—at the center, with his wife at his side, in a lower
position, surrounded by the rest of the family. The patriarchal nature of

Familial Snapshots

Fig. 2. Alfred and Olinda Roch with their daughter Ortineh, Jaffa,
1911. Photo by Issa Sawabini.

Arab society in Palestine at the time is evident in such images. A studio

portrait taken in 1911 by Sawabini shows the father (Alfred Roch) standi-
ing with a finger pointed toward his baby daughter (Ortineh), held by
her mother (Olinda). The mother is dressed in a manner that suggests
she belonged to Victorian America or Britain (figure 2). The photograph
thus presents us with a mélange of ideas and attitudes belonging to
various contemporaneous cultural trends. The contrast here between the
postures of husband and wife brings to mind John Berger’s observation
regarding the existence of a convention in modern European art where
men act and women appear.21 The positioning and the gesture of the father
are intended to affirm the values of patriarchy that were strictly upheld
in Arab society of the time, and the posture of the mother suggests that

Issam Nassar

she was attentive to the way she would appear to viewers. The attire of all
three shows the trend toward Westernization among the local upper class.
As time went by, photographs of the family without the patriarch started
to become common in certain regions and social classes. Emigration to
the Americas or wartime conscription might explain the father’s absence
(indeed, it is likely that such photographs were taken for the benefit of
the absent father).
The second trend was first associated with photographers from
missionary groups active in Palestine at the time. It was common for
missionary schools to hire photographers in order to produce images
showing their charitable activities for the benefit of their founders abroad.
Both Ra’ad and Sawabini regularly photographed school graduation
ceremonies, weddings in Ramallah, especially of those who were associa-
ated with the Quaker school (the Friends School). Their pictures often
appeared in Quaker publications originating in Philadelphia in the US,
where the Quakers had their headquarters at the time.22 Photographing
the graduating classes of the missionary schools was another common
practice, in which many local photographers took part, including those
discussed above.23
The third trend that was common in certain areas, particularly those
with a significant Christian population, was post-mortem photography
(photographing the deceased before or during the funeral). Photographs
of deceased clergy, especially patriarchs and bishops, can be found in the
photographic archives of many churches of Palestine dating back to the
late nineteenth century. This tradition, which was apparently limited at
first to the clergy, seems to have become popular among Christians in
the early part of the twentieth century. In fact, it was not uncommon for
local photographic studios to advertise that they specialized in funeral
pictures. In many instances, the deceased would be photographed almost
in a standing position, with the coffin raised a little and surrounded by the
family. It is not known how this tradition emerged in early photography of
the Near East. Nonetheless, post-mortem photography was not unknown
in other parts of the world in this period, such as the US and India. The
resort to post-mortem photographs in the case of Palestine was perhaps
due to the fact that the subject had never been photographed during his
or her lifetime: in that case, the subject’s last picture was also the first.
It also demonstrated a more general human trait: taking a picture with

Familial Snapshots

the deceased surrounded by family members was perhaps, as Christopher

Pinney pointed out in his discussion of this phenomenon in the case of
India, “an expression of a combination of love ... and the need for grief-
stricken relatives to cling to memories of the deceased.”24 Indeed, such
photography can still be found today.
A fourth trend in local photography is what I would term “war phot-
tography,” which includes both studio portraits of men in army uniform
and pictures of combat or events related to the various wars and rebellions
that affected Palestine at the time. One can find photographs of Palestinian
men in Ottoman army uniform and in British police uniform, and later,
portraits of resistance fighters. While the studios of Krikorian, Ra’ad, and
Sawabini (in Jaffa) produced this type of portrait, the next generation of
local photographers, such as Hanna Safieh and Ali Zarour, took similar
pictures, but in the field and outside the confines of the studio. Several
photographs from the 1940s by Hanna Safieh, for example, show leaders
such as Abd al-Qader al-Husseini, commander of the al-Jihad al-Muqadd-
das (Holy War) Army, posing for the camera surrounded by other armed
men. Safieh also photographed the Arab attack on the Jewish quarter of
the Old City of Jerusalem in May 1948, as well as the battle of the Gush
Etzion Jewish settlements (between Bethlehem and Hebron) in May 1948.
According to an eyewitness account, Safieh traveled in the tank of Abdullah
al-Tal, commander of the Jordanian forces, who captured the site from
the Israeli forces in 1948. Another photographer who documented the
1948 war was the Gaza-based Abd al-Razak Badran.25 Other photographs
documenting the 1936 Arab revolt and the 1948 war can often be found
in family collections and archives.
The trends discussed above attest to the fact that there was indeed a
local Palestinian photographic tradition, one that employed the medium
in ways that were significantly different from the European depictions.
Clearly, photography had found its own place within Palestinian society,
less as an art, and more as a means of documenting social and private lives.
Photographs that suggest that the medium was used as an art form are
rather rare—and nonexistent in the case of our three photographers. One
of the few such photographs, dating back to 1922, shows a man named
Mr. Skafi posing in four different positions (figure 3). In an almost surreal
setting, three Mr. Skafis are sitting around a dining table eating potatoes,
while a head—also of Mr. Skafi—is placed on a plate in front of them!

Issam Nassar

Fig. 3. Mr. Skafi in four different positions, Bethlehem, 1922. Photographer unkown.

One might argue that photography in Palestine had several beginnings
and multiple histories. First there was the arrival of photography in 1839
as a European invention, which I have briefly outlined in an attempt to
establish an initial frame of reference. With European photographers
certain ideas and traditions in photography were gradually established.
Then there was the “beginning” of photography as a local craft among
Armenian and Arab photographers. This beginning was largely connected
with the advent of modernity into the Ottoman Empire and in particular
into Jerusalem. The third “beginning” was connected with the start of
the Zionist settlement in Palestine, which brought a number of photograp-
phers to the country to document the birth and the growth of the Jewish
Yishuv—something to which I have barely referred. Although there are
numerous studies on both Zionist and European photographers of Pale-
estine, little has been written about the local photography of Palestine.26
This essay has sought to draw attention to a number of photographers who
have so far been ignored and, almost more importantly, to carve a place
in the history of photography in Palestine for what I have called a local
photographic tradition. Much work still remains to be done in the field.
Not only is the study of the development of local photography important
for understanding the advent of modernity in its local form, but it also

Familial Snapshots

offers the social historian important material relevant to the social changes
that were taking place at the time.
Early local photography has left a large number of records of politic-
cal and daily life. At the same time, it provides us with an insight into
how local people viewed and “framed” themselves at that time. After all,
photographs play an important role in shaping what we know and how
we know it. As Susan Sontag so rightly said, photographers “alter and
enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right
to observe.”27


This article is based on my previous work, which appeared in my book, Laqatatt

mughayyira: Al-taswir al-mahalli fi filastin, 1850–1948 (Different snapshots: Early
local photography in Palestine, 1850–1948) (Beirut, 2005).
1. The memoirs, edited by Issam Nassar and Salim Tamari, were published in
Arabic in 2003 and 2005 by the Institute of Jerusalem Studies in Jerusalem and
the Institute of Palestine Studies in Beirut.
2. The plane crashed before it arrived in Jerusalem on its way from Jaffa. See
Salim Tamari and Issam Nassar, eds., Al-Quds al-‘uthmaniyya fi al-mudhakkirat
al-jawhariyya (Ottoman Jerusalem in the Jawhariyya memoirs) (Beirut, 2003),
168–69. See also Salim Tamari, “Jerusalem’s Ottoman Modernity: The Times
and Lives of Wasif Jawhariyyeh,” Jerusalem Quarterly File, no. 9 (summer 2000):
3. For further information on Palestine in the nineteenth century, see Alexander
Scholch, Palestine in Transformation (1856–1882): Studies in Social, Economic and
Political Development, trans. William C. Young and Michael C. Gerrity (Washingt-
ton, DC, 1993). See also A. L. Tibawi, British Interests in Palestine, 1800–1901:
A Study of Religious and Educational Enterprise (London, 1961).
4. Reinhold Rohricht, Bibliotheca Geographica Palaestinae: Chronologisches
Verzeichniss der auf die Geographie des Heiligen Landes bezüglichen Literature von
333 bis 1878, (Berlin, 1890; rept. London, 1989), 338–587.
5. For further elaboration on this, see Issam Nassar, Photographing Jerusalem:
The Image of the City in Nineteenth-Century Photography (Boulder, CO, 1997),
6. There are several pictorial histories of the Palestinians, the best known being
Walid Khalidi, Before Their Diaspora: A Photographic History of the Palestinians,
1876–1948 (Washington, DC, 1984).

Issam Nassar

7. A report on an architectural photographic exhibit in 1860 stated that “the

photographs in this exhibit are judiciously classed by countries, although the various
nations are unequally represented. France and England are greatly in the majority,
as might have been expected: next follow Spain, Rome, Venice, Jerusalem and its
neighbourhood.” See The British Journal of Photography, 15 March 1860, 88.
8. The present study confines itself to photographs taken by professional phot-
tographers, for they were more widely accessible to the general public—both in
the Middle East and in Europe—and can be considered the product of a market
demand for Holy Land images, illustrating more clearly the type of photographs
sought by the public.
9. For further information about early local photographers in Palestine and
their teachers, see Nassar, Laqatatt mughayyira, 50–71.
10. The 1876 figure is based on Warren’s Underground Jerusalem, and the
source of the 1877 figure is A. M. Luncz, ed., Jerusalem: Jahrbuch zur Beförderu-
ung einer wissenschaftlich genauen Kenntniss des jetzigen und des alten Palästinas
(Vienna, 1882); cited in Scholch, Palestine in Transformation, 126–30.
11. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Thumb Index Edition (1993),
s.v. “Localism.”
12. Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dynamics of Globalization
(Minneapolis, MN, 1996), 178.
13. Photographs taken by Grant were printed in The Ramallah Messenger, the
newsletter of the Society of Friends in New England. See Nasseb Shaheen, A
Pictorial History of Ramallah (Beirut, 1992), 31.
14. Yessayi Garabedian described his fascination with photography in his
memoirs, calling it in Armenian arhest (craft) rather than arvest (art). See Ruth
Victor-Hummel, “Culture and Image: Christians and the Beginnings of Local
Photography in 19th Century Ottoman Palestine,” in Anthony O’Mahony,
Goren Gunner and Kevork Hitlian, eds., The Christian Heritage in the Holy Land
(Jerusalem, 1995), 186.
15. See Badr al-Hajj, “Khalil Raad, photographe à Jerusalem,” Revue d’études
Palestiniennes 37 (autumn 1990): 99–100.
16. For further information see Victor-Hummel, “Culture and Image.”
17. That Krikorian, Khalil Ra’ad, Hanna Safieh and Abu Issa Freji all had there
studios on Jaffa Road close to the Jaffa Gate can possibly be explained by the fact
that they were all Christians who either lived in or were connected to the quarters
close to the location. Furthermore, Jaffa Gate was the main gate through which
pilgrims and tourists arrived in the city from Jaffa either by carriage or by train.
The area had several inns for pilgrims and was the main transportation station for
carts that traveled to other parts of the country. In the later years of British rule

Familial Snapshots

in Palestine, studios were still being established on Jaffa Road, but further to the
north in the new part of the city.
18. Edward Said, Out of Place: A Memoir (New York, 1999), 76.
19. This was most likely Pinchas Rachman (1888–1953). See Guy Raz, Phot-
tographers of Eretz Israel/Palestine/Israel (1855–2000) (in Hebrew) (Tel Aviv,
2003), 68.
20. The photographs reproduced here are taken from Nassar, Laqatatt
mughayyira. The original photographs are in the archive of the Fondation Arabe
pour l’Image in Beirut.
21. John Berger, Ways of Seeing (Harmondsworth, UK, 1972), 45 and 47.
22. Examples can be found in Shaheen, A Pictorial History of Ramallah.
23. The shortage in photographers meant that people of the surrounding vill-
lages and towns regularly employed the Jaffa and the Jerusalem photographers,
who traveled from one town to another.
24. Christopher Pinney, Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs
(London, 1997), 139.
25. Abd al-Razak Badran (1919–2003) was born in Haifa. He lived in Safed
and Nablus before moving to Cairo where he studied photography at the School
for Applied Arts at Cairo University. He owned a photography studio in Jaffa
during the British Mandate period, subsequently founding his Studio for Art and
Photography in Gaza in 1941.
26. For Jewish photography in Palestine, see, for example, Vivienne Silver-Brody,
Documentors of the Dream: Pioneer Jewish Photographers in the Land of Israel,
1890–1933 (Jerusalem and Philadelphia, 1998); for European photography, see
Kathleen Stewart Howe, ed., Revealing the Holy Land: The Photographic Explorat-
tion of Palestine (Santa Barbara, CA, 1997).
27. Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York, 1977), 3.