|Citizen of the World
Guy Shachar, photographer and former communications engineer, comes full circle to study architecture.
By Amanda Jaffe-Katz
Guy Shachar had always dreamed of becoming an architect, since childhood. In the 10th grade, Shachar took a photography course. Then, his high school Electronics studies pushed him in the direction of electrical engineering and computer science, which he completed at Tel Aviv University.
And he traveled a lot.
For his master’s degree, at Haifa University, he switched to geography. Now, aged 38, and having made his mark throughout the Internet as an accomplished travel photographer, Shachar is back at school as a first-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at Technion. “It feels like the right place,” he says.
The Petach-Tikva-based Shachar family would frequently leave the city to visit the countryside. “My mother taught biology and nature,” Shachar recalls. The big break in his photojournalism career came in 2002 when Shachar got a digital camera and went “storm chasing” to see the flash floods in the Negev. Later came rare snowfalls in Mitzpe Ramon and Jerusalem. Shachar’s beautiful photo presentations provide vicarious entertainment for hundreds of thousands of viewers less able to experience these phenomena in situ. “The presentations turned out to be a pioneering method of expressing art to the public. They serve as a ‘wandering exhibition’ - one which travels to your very desktop,” he comments.
“I keep a small camera with me at all times,” Shachar says. “It’s all about looking, and spotting the opportunity, which is more important than the technical equipment.” In 2004, he won the Pratt Prize for Environmental Journalism, designed to raise awareness among the Israeli public and the media community about the social, economic, cultural, and ethical aspects of the environmental crisis in Israel.
In 2006, TIME Magazine’s choice for Person of the Year was “all the people who share content through the Internet.” Shachar comments, “I am glad I manage to utilize this technological tool in order to promote Israel, its natural resources, and environmental issues.”
Yaks below Kangyaze Peak (6400m), Ladakh, India
Shachar traveled abroad extensively, mainly in Europe and the Far East. He has written the first and only guidebook in Hebrew that covers both India and Nepal together after repeat visits to these lands, and an original travel guide to China comprising a book with accompanying Web site providing additional information to enrich the book experience. “Going out into the world gives one a perspective and a reference, especially regarding the environmental aspect,” Shachar comments. “It widens one’s horizons so much and sometimes it’s problematic - it’s very addictive! I like to taste new places. India, for instance, is multisensory,” he says.
Under his belt, Shachar also notched up two years working for a National Geographic start-up company. Now, Shachar is finally fulfilling that childhood dream and is studying architecture, where, he says, “I can combine analytic skills with creativity.”
In addition to his Internet presentations, travelogues and videos, Shachar regularly delivers talks to the general public. On campus, he has appeared at student venues including, appropriately, the Israel Trail Clubhouse located in the New Eastern Village student dormitories. Here, under the auspices of the Wunsch Performance and Lecture Fund, Shachar gave his unforgettable “Israel’s Peak Travel Sites” audiovisual show accompanied by his personal commentary with the story behind the lens.
Given that his previous degrees were pursued elsewhere, Shachar finds the Technion campus and activities very refreshing. He appreciates the availability of facilities such as the music room, as well as the welcoming all new students received at the start of the semester with Orientation Day. Referring to the down time when there are no undergraduate classes and everyone is encouraged to partake in outdoor bazaars and events he says, “I think the whole concept of the ‘Wednesday Noon Happenings’ is brilliant.”