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November 1, 2013 10:13 am

Instagram Photographers Snap Pictures of Israel

avatar by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

Jerusalem. Photo: Instagram user Ciler Gecici, @audiosoup.

A group of popular Instagram photographers hailing from Turkey, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Russia, and the United States recently visited Israel on a nine-day trip, capturing breathtaking images of the country that they shared with millions of viewers.

“This is our first visit to Israel,” said Ciler Gecici and Mehmet Kirali Ozturk, both of Istanbul. Gecici, a music director, and her boyfriend Ozturk, an industrial designer, had always wanted to visit Israel. “It was on our list of things to do,” explains Mehmet with a smile. “Israel is a great country to explore and we both love to travel.”

So when the Turkish couple were invited to join the ‘Once in a Lifetime HD 2013’ trip run by the international organizationStandWithUs, they were more than excited to visit the Holy Land.  Family and friends back home in Istanbul were also supportive of their trip, says the couple.

But while the reactions to their photos of Israel have been by and large positive on Instagram, there has been a stream of negative responses as well as hostile political statements.

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“I don’t understand that feeling of hate. So we just keep on taking photos of this beautiful country and posting them no matter what the response,” Gecici told Tazpit News Agency.

“In Turkey, like anywhere in the world, there are ignorant, racist people, but the majority are open and tolerant,” explains Ozturk.

“I’m not here for the politics,” says Swedish photographer Christoffer Colin, who has more than 400,000 followers on Instagram.  “I’m here to capture a good photo.”

This is the second such trip for leading Instagrammers that ‘Once in a Lifetime HD’ has organized in the past two years. The program seeks out young influential online photographers from around the world to connect with Israel’s cultural, historical, and scenic landscape. With this year’s delegation, more than three million Instagram followers were exposed to the hundreds of photos that the visitors shared of their travels in the country.

“This was a dream trip for me,” said Ana Barros, 28, an architect from Austria to Tazpit. “I had the privilege to experience an amazing adventure with incredible people.”

“The colors in this country are amazing. Every corner is a photo opportunity,” exclaims Barros, who is originally from Portugal and whose photos of Israel, like those of the other Instagram photographers, received thousands of likes on Instagram.

Auca Moseng, an oil and gas engineer from Norway, who photographs as a hobby, was impressed by Jerusalem’s religious elements. “To dive into Jerusalem with all the holiness and magic, you feel it even if you don’t abide by any religion,” she said. “The snapshots of religious life are so unique.”

“I snapped at least 400 photos today,” said Morgan Grether, a web developer from Portland, Oregon, describing his first day in Jerusalem. “And I know that by the end of the trip, we are going to have thousands of shots of Israel.”

“We are just regular, real people showing life in Israel,” concludes Gecici.

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