By Pat Davies
Forest Hills has been home to photographer David Luria for over 20 years, but he originated from much further away – from Hamburg in Germany, where he was born in 1936, just as the Nazis were gaining strength.
Sensing that times were getting more and more difficult for Jewish families, David’s American mother begged his father to consider leaving Germany to travel to the USA, but David’s father, Frank Luria, initially refused to leave his homeland. Wives were not permitted to leave without their husband’s permission, so it wasn’t until December 1938, when David was just two years old, and his brother was ten, that the entire family boarded the S.S. Manhattan, the last boat from Hamburg to New York, to start their new life in America.
David grew up in New York City, and graduated from Amherst College where he specialized in political science and modern languages. He served three years with the U.S. Army Security Agency in Germany, and received his training in photography at the Parsons School of Design in Paris. From 1962 through to 1995, David worked with various non-profit organizations in the field of international development and citizen exchange, and he served overseas with CARE Inc. for several years in Colombia and Panama.
In 1995 David turned his photography hobby into a full-time career when the organization he worked for downsized, and he suddenly found himself unemployed. He started an architectural photography business, an area in which he still specializes, and in 1999 he conceived the idea of organizing photo safaris, and Washington Photo Safari was born!
Fourteen years later Washington Photo Safari is going strong and doing better than ever. In the DC area, over 28,000 clients have been trained in the techniques of travel photography, including nighttime, digital, candid portraiture, pet, travel, nature and architectural photography. With a team of 12 professional photographers, and working with the local tourism authority, Washington Photo Safari offers local, domestic and international programs, and David has helped set up similar programs in 17 other cities.
Clients can be of any skill level and any type of camera is acceptable, even a cell phone! There are at least 5 or 6 photo safaris every week of the year, and during the main three weeks of the cherry blossom season this year there were 42 safaris with over 600 clients. One-on-one tutoring is available, as well as customized group safaris, and workshops on the more popular Canon and Nikon digital SLR camera models. David took the beautiful photograph shown here of the Capitol in spring with a $40 point-and-shoot camera to make the point that it’s the photographer that takes the picture – not the camera!
In addition to his busy role with Washington Photo Safari, David continues his work as an architectural photographer, and also acts as official photographer for various events and publications. His photographs appear on the covers of 31 magazines and in over 100 publications. He is a member of many photographic organizations, and frequently speaks at local camera clubs.
In 2000 David returned to Hamburg, the city of his birth, for the first time in 64 years. He visited the Rathaus (the Town Hall) where he signed the guest book. Shortly afterwards he received an email from the Mayor’s secretary asking if he was related to Frank Luria, and he discovered that his father had been president of the Portugese–Jewish Community in Hamburg. It transpired that the City of Hamburg was organizing an exhibition called Jerusalem of the North, including photographs of David’s father. David was invited back to Hamburg as a guest of the city, and as official photographer for the exhibition, and at that time he was able to visit the apartment where his family had lived, and to meet the Mayor of Hamburg.
David has a son, two daughters, and four grandchildren. He lives in the Brandywine Apartment Building and is President of the Tenants’ Association. He is an avid supporter of the Forest Hills Connection and we are delighted to have him as a neighbor!