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July 5, 2013 11:16 am

After Much Effort, NY Photographer Incorporates Orthodox Jews Into Photo Project

avatar by Zach Pontz

A view camera similar to the one used by Richard Renaldi. Photo: Wikipedia.

A New York photographer looking for the crown jewel of his photo project found taking an image of Orthodox Jews more complicated than at first thought, the New York Times reports.

Richard Renaldi, referred to as “a matchmaker for tense times” by the Times, has been working on a photography project in which he captures complete strangers posing together while touching, as if they were intimates.

On a recent venture into Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he tried to cajole Orthodox Jews into taking part in the project, but he was met with stiff resistance until one Abraham Weiss stopped to look at Renaldi’s camera. Renaldi made his best pitch, but Weiss, citing possible censure from his fellow Chasidim, ultimately declined.

Renaldi told the Times he wasn’t discouraged by the rejection. “It took me three years to get a Muslim woman,” he said. In six years, Mr. Renaldi said, “I’ve only had one time when I couldn’t get a shot.”

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Weiss suggested Renaldi go to Crown Heights or Borough Park, where “they’re more open.” Renaldi took that advice and was rewarded for it: he immediately met a 24-year-old Yeshiva student from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement named Shalom Lasker —who said in halting English: “No problem. Only men, right?”

Within ten minutes the shot had been captured with him close to Jeff Desire, a worker in a local fish market, and photographer Renaldi, once again having found himself overcoming the odds, was able to get his shot.

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