Roie Galitz, an award-winning wildlife photographer and founder of Israel’s renowned Galitz School of photography nearly gave up on photography as a career.
A multi-year SIPA honoree, he’d gotten his first camera at age 22 and “fell in love with it,” Galitz said via email after returning from shooting in Tanzania and the UK where he presented at The Photography Show in Birmingham.
“Actually, that’s an understatement,” Galitz reflected. “I became obsessed. I started reading anything I could get my hands on. I talked to other photographers and pretty soon I started writing articles since I believe that anything you’re getting from the community — you must give back in the same form. Kind of ‘what goes around comes around.’”
In the first few years, Galitz photographed a wide variety of subjects and genres, from portraits to street to commercial work to models and macro. “I photographed everything,” he said.
As time passed, he began to understand himself better — his strengths and weaknesses as a photographer. And his true passion. They didn’t always align. Not yet.
“In life, I believe you must strive to go with your strengths and try to avoid your weaknesses. Only then can you be great at something you do…..so I found out that my advantage was the technical side of photography and my passion is with nature and wildlife. It took some time to get to that conclusion, but it was absolutely worth it.”
So when Galitz realized that commercial work was destroying his passion for the craft, he quit instantly.
“I notified my clients that I’d retired and went to work in finance. I decided that I loved photography too much to ruin my passion for the sake of money…..that I could make a living another way without destroying my hobby. It was only when I got out that my passion returned and I found my path in nature and wildlife. I started writing magazine articles, doing public speaking and teaching photography.”
At about that time, in 2008, Galitz also founded the Galitz School of Photography, Israel’s largest photography school. It has since grown to take in over 2,000 students each year with about 24,000 graduates so far and a team of photographers and staff. He also started Phototeva, a highly successful photo-travel company in 2009.
“So photography has become a real big part of my life and other people’s lives,” Galitz said. “All along the way my wildlife and nature photography developed alongside the school and Phototeva and I’m still doing my best to improve and breach my own limits.”
Galitz is also passionate about the environment. He often gives talks about the urgency of climate action and photography’s critical role in conservation.
The Power to Change the World
But just what, in Galitz’ opinion, is our responsibility as photographers in regards to environmental education and awareness?
“Each photographer is an ambassador,” Galitz emphasizes. “Photography is a means of communication and it allows us to take people with us on wonderful adventures and tell them our own stories. Photography is one of the most reliable forms of media and nothing is stronger than your eyesight.”
The responsibility, he says, in no uncertain terms, is to document, share and believe in one’s ability to change the world through individual actions.
“So, if you see or encounter any wrong or a story that should be told, please share it with the world. Each and every one of us has the power to change the world. We all live on this planet together and share the same fate.”
For those just getting started in photography or mid-career photographers looking to tune up their game, Galitz offers the following advice — the same advice he gives to his own students.
“Find out who you are first. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your threats and opportunities?”
This is where patience is important, he cautions.
“If you don’t know yet, that’s perfectly normal (it took me plenty of time) so don’t feel bad about it. Try to experiment. Ask others who know you for their opinions.”
Galitz, the photographer who put passion before profit, doesn’t stop there.
“Challenge yourself to the extreme! Often when we are pushed to our limits — that’s when we discover the most profound ideas.”
Learn more about Roie Galitz and his work via his website here: https://www.roiegalitz.com/
Follow him on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/roiegalitz/