A chat with Yadid Levy
Copenhagen-born Yadid Levy’s colourful, lively photographs reflect a wanderlust that was passed down to him by his parents. His Danish mother and Israeli father had travelled extensively in their youth, and as soon as he finished his military service in Israel, where he was brought up, Yadid followed in their footsteps. He has barely stopped travelling since.
Looking back however, Yadid explains that photography had not been part of the family tradition. “I grew up hearing a lot of travel stories but there were hardly any pictures to accompany them,” he says. “My parents always told me that the best images are in their head and for them, that was enough.” It wasn’t until the age of 19 – when Yadid’s father, a tourist guide, offered him an old Canon camera that a client had given him – that he began taking photos.
After traveling for six months around Europe, Yadid was planning to start at university but instead found himself on the way to India, and it was there that he first started taking pictures with the idea of creating travel and documentary features. He pitched them to magazines, and slowly but surely his business grew. After two or three years he began to make a living out of it.
Despite having travelled to around 80 countries, and lived in several, India remains one of his enduring favourites. “There is the world and then there is India and you can’t compare it to any other place,” he says. “It’s like getting into another world full of colours and events with not a single dull moment.”
Yadid, who has recently relocated from Argentina back to Israel, believes a photographer should ‘just go out there and shoot and not be shy about making contact with locals’. “A smile goes a long way and locals can have great tips about the place that you are shooting,” he says. He loves photographing people, believing that they make the character of a place, but also has a passion for shooting food, since cooking is one of his favourite hobbies.
The life of a travel photographer may be rewarding, but it is tough too. “It’s not an easy market and you are going to hear a lot of no’s,” says Yadid. When asked his advice to wannabe travel photographers, he says: “In order to succeed it’s not enough just to be able to take good pictures, you also need to be a good sales person and know how to market yourself. Put an effort into this, and believe in yourself. If you really love it and want to make it as a photographer just keep on trying and love what you do.”
Looking back, travel has not only made Yadid’s photography career, but has changed his life in other ways. He recalls a moment during his first visit to Buenos Aires, when, wandering around the trendy Palermo neighbourhood, he passed by a girl outside a restaurant who caught his eye. They started chatting and arranged to go on a date the next day.
“We met at a pub and two hours later I knew she was the woman I had been looking for all my life,” he says. “It took me a few phone calls to convince her to go for a second date, but after that she fell for me, and the rest is history.” The couple eventually married and, in keeping with the spirit of Yadid’s multinational, travel loving parents, have been sharing their time between Buenos Aires, Copenhagen and Israel ever since.