Rina Castelnuovo Tel Aviv, Israel, b. 1956
Rina Castelnuovo is a photojournalist known for her intimate portraits of people experiencing the seemingly never-ending conflict between Israel and Palestine. Amidst images of war and struggle are empathetic scenes of holiday celebrations and moments just before violence ensues. Castelnuovo studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, Italy, and currently lives and works in Israel. She was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and, in 2018, won 3rd prize in UNICEF’s photo of the year. She has worked for The New York Times, Time, Stern and Associated Press. Her work has been featured in The New York Times Lens Blog and included in the 2011 publication, Jewish Art: A Modern History by Samantha Baskind and Larry Silver.
Castelnuovo began documenting the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis more than 30 years ago, a significant portion of which was done as a contract photographer for The New York Times based in Jerusalem. “To understand the roots of the strife, you have to understand the roots of the religion,” she said.
She photographed Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 as well as many conflicts — two wars in Lebanon, the Israeli invasion of Gaza, and several intifadas. But, it is her glimpses into the everyday life of people who seem constantly at one another’s throats that have won her a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
“I love working here,” Castelnuovo said. “No matter how many years I’m covering it, I’m totally passionate. Seven or eight years ago, I thought peace is coming soon and I’ll do something else. And that didn’t happen. So, what’s the next phase? I can’t see the end of the story, and it keeps on going on and on. I’m afraid to take a vacation because I’m going to miss a big story. I always think that with a little bit of a push, a photograph can make a difference.”
She takes satisfaction in knowing that ordinary Israelis and Palestinians do get along. “Between us, we have friendships,” she said. “We don’t announce it.”