Photo submitted by OCAD university student Ronnie Friedman came in first place
TORONTO — At the crack of dawn during a sunrise hike in Eilat, a young man perches himself on a jagged mountain face, overlooking the Red Sea and the blue sky.
His girlfriend, 19-year-old Ronnie Friedman, notices him indulging in a peaceful moment.
With an eye and a passion for photography, she calls out to him, “Pose! Pose for me!”
Little did she know that the photo she took would translate into a free, round-trip ticket to Israel.
Last September, Taglit-Birthright Israel held a photography contest open to all North American Birthright alumni.
Jacob Dallal, Birthright’s associate director of communications and marketing, was part of a promotional initiative that challenged Birthrighters to submit images that capture the essence of Israel and the Birthright experience.
Dallal said about 1,900 people responded.
“We got photos of landscapes and people and everything under the sun.”
After narrowing thousands of submissions down to 100, a professional photographer with a better-trained eye was commissioned to select the best 18.
From there, the top 18 photos were put to a Facebook vote. The winner was chosen based on who could garner the most Facebook “likes.”
It was a tight race between the first- and second-place photos, but by the end of the contest, Friedman, a second-year advertising student at OCAD University, edged out her competition by less than 60 votes.
“Photography has been a part of my life since I can remember,” Friedman said.
“I own three cameras, and I always have a camera on me at all times. It’s mainly a hobby, but I try to make it more than that. That’s why I’m in advertising,” she said, adding that she’d love to be able to incorporate photography into her career.
Friedman, who travelled to Israel on Birthright in May with her boyfriend, Robbie Frank, said winning this contest – and a round-trip ticket to Israel with El Al – was a very validating experience for her.
“I’m definitely looking for more contests to enter,” she said.
Dallal said he hopes to organize a photo exhibit of the best images from the contest at the Knesset in Jerusalem next spring.
“These aren’t professional photographers, but sometimes when you see Israel through the eyes of those who are experiencing it, it actually makes for some very beautiful material,” Dallal said.
Check out the top 18 photos at http://tinyurl.com/7c4ujyr or visit the Heebonics blog at www.heebonics.ca, where they’ve been posted.