A unique service for photo enthusiasts and #photourists that combines instruction on improving your photographic skills, visits to iconic landmarks and meeting local people from the fascinating land of Israel!
Joubert Loots will be your photography tour guide and share his knowledge of travel and street documentary photography with you while on tour.
His photography tours are suitable for beginners, amateurs, and semi-pro photographers. The itineraries are designed to give groups of 6-10 photourists a flavour of local life in Israel as well as opportunities to visit some of Israel’s iconic sights.
Book your Experience Israel spot now for only R26 000 (2000 USD)
Visits to Jerusalem (Old City), Mount Of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Bethlehem, Palestine separation wall (a spot for seeing graffiti art), The Dead Sea, St George’s Monastery, Meresha (world heritage site), Hebron (Tomb of the patriarchs), Sea of Galilee, Nazareth Village.
Professional photographer tour facilitator (Joubert Loots - Social Documentary Photographer)
Travel photography, landscape/cityscape, street photography workshops.
Photo walks & discussions
Accommodation: A cosy and homely local penthouse apartment. Includes wifi, a large shared kitchen and has panoramic views over Bethlehem from Beit Jala.
Food: a mix of locally prepared, self-catered and traditional dishes at local eating spots.
Return flights included from Johannesburg.
What you need:
DSLR, mirrorless, compact or a smartphone camera, Mini tripod, laptop optional (for editing)
Adults 18 years and older
Non-photographers are also welcome as well as spouses of photourists.
Photourists should easily be able to walk 5-8 km a day.
Day 1 - Jerusalem
1. Group meets up in Jerusalem’s Old City
2. Evening briefing on cultural awareness and photography course outline
3. Let's get acquainted
Day 2 - Jerusalem (Old City)
1. Panorama views
2. Western Wall (Wailing Wall)
3. Holy Sepulchre
4. Garden Tomb
5. Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane.
6. Street Photo Session
Day 3 - Bethlehem
1. Banksy/Separation Wall
2. Dheishah Camp
3. Afternoon photo walk in Bethlehem
4. Church of Nativity (Birthplace of Jesus )
5. Evening session/photo critique and briefing on next day
Day 4 - Day trip
1. Meresha (world heritage site)
2. Hebron (Old City - Tomb of the Patriarchs)
3. Debriefing session
Day 5 - Day Trip
1. The Dead Sea
2. St George’s Monastery
Day 6 - Sea of Galilee/Nazareth
1. Sea of Galilee
Day 7 - Open day (Bethlehem/Jerusalem)
1. Photourists are free to venture out on their own or join Joubert.
2. Last night in Hostel
1. Return to Jerusalem - head back to Tel Aviv Airport
Joubert Loots acts only as tour facilitator for the tour participants when arranging accommodation, transportation, touring, restaurants, or any other services in connection with the itinerary. He will exercise reasonable care in making such arrangements. However, he does not assume any liability whatsoever for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity to person or property because of any act or default of any hotel, carrier, restaurant, company, or person rendering any of the services included in the tours.
Joubert Loots accepts no responsibility for any damage, delay, or injury due to sickness, pilferage, labour disputes, machinery breakdown, government restraints, hostile acts, terrorism, weather, acts of God, or any other cause beyond his personal control. Joubert Loots is not responsible for the loss of or damage to your luggage, accidents en route, or ill health which may require travellers to miss parts of the tour or to return home without the group.
The tour programs are planned in advance. If between planning time and the actual tour operation, circumstances beyond control require changes, Joubert Loots reserves the right to vary itineraries and substitute components of tour programs. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for any reason whatsoever to alter the arrangements of the itinerary, such alterations may be made without penalty to Joubert. The right is reserved to accept or refuse any person as a member of the tour.
A personal reflection from my time in Israel
With no goal, plan or expectation set before me, I took to the streets of Israel each day, allowing myself to get accustomed to daily life and routine of the local people.
I started to get into a daily rhythm and even managed to get to know some of the local citizens on a deeper level. These locals included Shop owners, Taxi drivers, a construction worker, waiters, and some ground staff of a local NonProfit called, ‘House of Hope’.
I spent 2 months living in Bethlehem and even took some day trips to explore the city of Jerusalem.
I had my routine in check, not visiting places just to see sites through ‘tourist eyes’, but more importantly to walk away from this experience having made some close friends and experience tangible memories.
As time progressed I became more focused on sharing with and getting to know the people from the Palestinian territories. For me, it was not about choosing which people groups I like more or support. More important to me was ‘chance encounters', the forming of natural and effortless interactions with the local people and perhaps even to form some friendships. I hope that in sharing some images, I can hopefully paint a better picture to show these everyday encounters I had along the way.
I had the privilege to intermittently volunteer at House of Hope. I went on a day trip with them to small villages meeting some of the parents from the special needs children of the House. To be part of and build friendships with these kids also challenged my own understanding of what we truly need to be happy and satisfied in life. The effects of these friendships instilled within me a big heart change and genuine thankfulness for the life I am blessed to live.
I came to know Sami Badra (on the left) over the course of my involvement at House of Hope. Sami is one of the ground staff members and has a longstanding involvement at the house. He has such a good spirit towards his work and an unselfish nature in the way that he does the daily rounds. After he had finished his daily chores we spent many nights eating together and sharing stories from our lives and past experiences.
Another welcome surprise was to meet up with a South African organisation called 'Global Challenge'. They travel the world over the course of one year serving different communities and reaching out to people in need.
Most of their time in the country consisted of preparing a cave which eventually was converted into a small 'Grotto Church’. The ladies from the team put in some hard physical work in preparing the garden area outside the venue.
The person whom I visited the most was a man living in Bethlehem, also with the name Sammie. Sammie is definitely one of a kind. He is so passionate and literally always walking around with a smile.
Sammie gets up early each morning to open his small shop. At this shop he prepares tea and coffee for locals and tourists that pass by. What makes him special is his attitude and manner in which he does this simple but serious task. He not only serves people from this tiny shop but also walks up and down the streets to personally bring his customers their beverage orders.
Saliba Bandak, is another dear friend whom I had connected with along the way. We had many deep discussions about shared experiences, expectations and dreams for the future. There were some days when he would lock up the store for an hour or so and we would go grab a coffee together at his favourite cappuccino spot.
The following images show more of my daily encounters, visiting the locals.
I met Khader at the House of Hope, he was part of a group of builders on the site. Khader works both day and night jobs to help support he and his family.
I even had the honour of being invited by Khader to his family’s home to share in a meal together. I spent the day mostly with him and his brother. They took time during their day to show me around the Dheisheh refugee camp.
Shepherd's of Bethlehem
While spending countless hours every day walking through various places in the country and observing the society as a whole, I could not help but be reminded of many stories I heard when growing up. Most of these stories are connected to historical biblical events that took place in Israel. An especially poignant collection is that of Psalms written by King David.
David was an appointed King of the nation of Israel and grew up as a shepherd tending to his father’s sheep in the hills and valleys of surrounding Bethlehem.
There are some powerful analogies to be found in authentically observing the life of a shepherd. This is seen in the shepard’s devotion to his sheep and how this relates back to our lives with or heavenly Father.
Today, one can still find a uniquely different and deeply involved lifestyle of shepherding in Bethlehem than that of which we find in western cultures. It is truly a special sight to observe in reality this bond and trust between sheep and shepherd.
I could go on and elaborate more on these experiences, but most significant for me in this case, is the realisation of our inability to love selflessly, trust and break down walls of separation formed as a result of humanities multiple differences.
Without intimate relationships and mutual understanding, an unselfish kind of love and care, we are just as good as a bunch of lost sheep without a shepherd.
My sheep story might sound a bit umm, ‘sheepish’, but for me, it caused many breakthroughs in my heart, I experienced these breakthroughs in my own spiritual journey while walking through Israel. I could relate to my own ‘walls’ and feelings of judgement towards other cultures, religions and ways of living.
The most significant and maybe more personal breakthrough for me was how these stories strengthened my belief and trust in Jesus Christ as my good shepherd.
To see more of my street images please visit the gallery: REFLECTIONS OF ISRAEL
I was invited to join a seed market and open dayOne day in a rural village in Palestine
I was invited to join a seed market and open day held by the Global Ecovillage Network in the small town of Farkha, 30 kilometers south of Nablus.
It was inspiring to witness how serious this small community is about adopting the valuable model of eco farming into their village and lifestyle.
To witness how they slowly regain a sense of pride by establishing these valuable principles is immensely encouraging. I hope one day to return and to see the progress that has been made.
Nelson Mandela statue in Ramallah
After it’s unveiling, the bronze statue of Nelson Mandela stood tall in the afternoon light
A gift from the Johannesburg municipality to the people of Ramallah in Palestine, this statue symbolises the solidarity with their struggle.
Being one of the very few South Africans there to witness this event was truly a special moment. I couldn’t help but proudly sing as our national anthem played.
Coming from a country that has achieved huge milestones to alleviate racial tensions and segregation but still experiences many difficulties years after freedom from apartheid rule meant that the ceremony really struck a chord within me…
I was hoping deep within me that if only the legacy and message of freedom from hatred, and forgiveness of your ‘enemy’, could be more of a reality within the current Israel and Arab conflict.
I arrived in Germany unsure of what to expect. In hindsight, I obviously had certain ideas formulated in my head, but this was quick to change!
Many people see Germany as being a highly rigid, sophisticated, timely, almost cold society. Where individuals are driven only to produce and succeed in their respective area of influence. Or at least in hindsight, this was my understanding of many people’s stereotypical views. Obviously, my idea of what the German stereotype was is not completely negative, and there is much that could be said about the progress and success that they have achieved as a nation. Perhaps it was too easy to compare these apparent ideals with my own, and see their capacity to influence a person's ability to relax, have fun, slow one's pace and enjoy life a bit more.
My biased views of almost all places are very quick to disappear nearly each time I travel, and I can't help but enjoy how there is always this commonality in human beings all over the world, despite the influence of culture, religion or ethnicity. Often I was asked by the German friends I made, what I thought of Germany and its people. Interestingly, it seemed almost every time I answered positively it was as if they were expecting the opposite.
We all have the need to be loved and to live a life knowing we belong to a community of people that share life with us. During my time in Germany, I had the privilege to share many experiences with German friends, as well as others who have only recently arrived across the border. It was so special to be reminded that when people come together with an honesty and eagerness to love, to learn and to share life, that together we have the power to not only deeply impact the lives of others, but also enrich our own personal lives.
I was able to meet many refugees, volunteers and organisations alike that give their time and energy to help within the current refugee situations. My highlight in Germany was to spend some time with a local church group that organised a week of serving refugees, organising various activities for kids and adults! There was laughter, tears, sports, movies, dancing, cultural foods and strong relationships formed across the many cultures gathered in one building.
It is truly special to experience unity amongst diversity.
It’s easy to think that if we look at surface level at a society that it does not look all to glorious, but when you give yourself a bit of time to reach deeper into individual’s lives, to love people despite their mistakes, you will be surprised by a whole new canvass that is revealed.
I can’t wait to share some of the images I created doing my time with both the refugees and volunteers, but it is maybe fitting to only tell those stories once I have completed my travels and can let my images tell an honest story of my experiences.
In the meantime I am happy to share my images of my time exploring Germany’s streets, enjoying the subtle joys, ironies, and stories that unfolded as I attempted to identify with what it means to be German. For without the countless hours I spent walking the streets of Germany, my findings altogether would be pretty meaningless.
Follow the link below to view my images of Germany:
Like many other travellers, I was faced with the challenge of not knowing much French, nevertheless, I armed myself with some basic french phrases that proved to be greatly helpful in breaking the ice when meeting new people.
I relished the time I spent in Paris and Nantes, taking every moment I could to explore as much of each city as my legs would allow. However perhaps it was the locals that I met, and the food (and wine) we shared that gave me a true taste of what it means to be French.
The older I become the more I have come to appreciate the subtle irony that as I grow as a photographer, the need to create images becomes secondary to the stories I wish to tell. Perhaps it would be better to say that there are times when words and experiences trump the potential of images to tell a story. Throughout these last four weeks, there have been many occasions when (consciously or not) I chose to leave my camera in its bag, instead trusting in my memory to serve as a reminder of the special encounters I had.
It’s in moments such as these when I have to put aside my desire to create something more beautiful or meaningful than what is already in existence. For with that ambition to capture the epitome of a moment, to share it with the world, resides the irony that I both steal that moment in time with my camera, yet I loose my own experience of it. And so, it is both my purpose to both capture and observe. To find a balance between my life as a creator and as a citizen of this world.
We should all take the time to steady our pace, to disconnect from our social interactions, mute the music, and put away our cameras. No matter how difficult it may feel to rest from the race that is your life, I know that if you try you can find the serenity that comes from observing the beauty in the mundanity that is life.
Follow the link below to view my images of France:
As an outsider, walking around the streets of London for the first time was an incredible experience. I set out with 16 days to explore this multifaceted city and document its people and sights as best I could, and only now at the end of my trip do I truly feel that I have found my feet in the city.
Perhaps its just a sign of coming from the relatively small city of Port Elizabeth that it took so long for me to move around with more confidence and have a better sense of how things work in a city such as London.
My main aim during my travels is to seek out and create a visual narrative that broadens our general perception of a place, a city, a culture or a social story, giving viewers a deeper knowledge through my personal observations and findings.
Perhaps it’s the difficult I find putting my observations into words that inspires me to keep on shooting. Photographs can so easily break time and reality into tiny tableaus of society, transferring a mass of information into a simple visual medium that allows us to investigate the world we live in. My hope is never to create images that are pleasant, or nice (a cup of tea is nice!), but rather present photographs that cause reflection and introspection, inspiring viewers to consider the actual moment and try to make sense of the scene as it was taken, perhaps even drawing connections to their own experiences in order to better understand the moment and how it relates to their own life.
Whatever the scene, I believe depictions of seemingly everyday humanity can help us to grow and understand each other and ourselves. If only we take the time to let it happen.
Allow yourself to observe life, and you may just find you gain a deeper understanding of the chaos we all live in.
Follow the link below to view my images of the UK:
"Joubert Loots shares what it takes to make it in his profession"
I enjoyed so much answering all the questions related to my passion as a photographer! It gave me some time to reflect, and revisit what it truly means to me to do what I love doing! Thanks so much EyeEm for this feature.
As my final year of studies came to an end, I decided to set off on a small solo cycling adventure through the Garden Route in South Africa. With only a hammock to sleep in, and other basic necessities mounted on my bicycle I embarked on an unforgettable quest, to experience new places, meet new people, and undergo new challenges.
My approach to the trip was simple and my planning was kept to a minimum, I took it one day at a time, and on my side I had my Fujifilm x100 to document parts of the journey. I selected a few photos that act as special reminders of the beautiful people, places, and experiences in my 1030km cycling adventure from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town.