Werner Braun, a founder of Israeli photojournalism, celebrates his 100th birthday on Tuesday. An honorary member of the “generation of Yekke photographers,” he said once in a rare interview: “Whenever I was photographing some event and ran out of film, I wanted to leave the place that instant so I wouldn’t be sorry that I missed some scene without being able to capture it with my camera.”
Braun, who lives in Mevasseret Zion, was born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1918. He got into photography at 18, then in 1937 he fled Germany, first to Denmark and later to Sweden. In 1946, he arrived in Israel where he began his photography work. A year later, he bought a photography lab on Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, called it Photo Europa and kept it operating through the War of Independence, which he photographed while serving as a soldier.
Braun’s photojournalism career began with pictures he took of a terror attack on Ben-Yehuda Street in February of that year. He went on to become the chief photographer of the Hebrew University, snapped pictures of the Eichmann trial for the Government Press Office and also served as photographer for the JNF.
Werner's archive contains about a half-million negatives, and his photographs have appeared in exhibitions, books and newspapers in Israel and around the world. Werner's subjects ranged from documentary to aerial and undersea shots, nature photography, and social illustrations.
In 1989, when the Israel Museum awarded him the Enrique Kavlin Photography Prize, Werner was said to have “created a rich body of photographs in professional activity spanning decades. He documented Israel’s natural, societal and human landscape in his remarkable and sensitive photographs.”