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From Broadway to Berlin, New York City photographers capture Holmes County

Rivka and Moshe Katvan described the people of Holmes County as some of the most kind and humble people they've ever encountered and used their creative eye to capture special moments.

Rivka and Moshe Katvan

Visit New York fine art photographer Rivka Shifman Katvan's website and you'll see that she has traveled the globe, beginning with her childhood in Bat-Yam, Israel where she lived for more than 20 years, as evidenced by her strong Israeli accent. Through the years, she has taken photographic tours of places like Russia, Prague and Portugal, just to name a few. You'll also see that she and her husband, fine art and commercial photographer Moshe Katvan, have captured much of their journeys on film along the way. And you'll probably gather that Rivka Katvan has a penchant for drama, having photographed the pre-show preparations of big Broadway stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Liam Neeson, Julie Andrews and Kevin Spacey, documenting the raw, unposed and often outlandish backstage moments of New York City theater life.

Rivka and Moshe Katvan's commercial client list reads like a who's who of the publishing and business worlds, their works appearing in publications like The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. Their photographs have been used in advertisements for companies like Estee Lauder, Kodak, Lands' End, and the United States Postal Service. Rivka Katvan's photographs have been featured in several books, including her own, Backstage: Broadway Behind the Curtain.

Rivka Katvan's favorite photographic moment, the one that stands out most in her mind, was during a shoot in Times Square right after Sept. 11, when hundreds of actors filled Times Square and performed as part of a promotion to draw people back into the city following the attacks on the World Trade Center.

"Because the actors knew me, I was able to go where the press couldn't. I loaded my equipment onto a double-decker bus and shot from the top. I was taking pictures and crying at the same time. It was incredible to see all of those people coming together to support New York."

While they live a cosmopolitan life, rubbing elbows with famous actors and big-name corporations daily, the Katvans have a deep love for small towns and look for any opportunity they can to grab their equipment and snap some photos. When they travel, they prefer to do so by car, seeking the out of the way nooks and crannies of each little spot, delving into the areas where, as Rivka Katvan said, real life takes place. Among her favorite small towns, Rivka Katvan lists Cremona, Italy and several little villages of Spain and Guatemala.

Just two weeks ago, on a stormy June afternoon, the Katvans added a new photographic conquest to their list of favorites as they framed the peaceful life and beautiful terrain of Ohio's Amish Country.

The Katvans left New York, heading toward Columbus to visit family when they decided to follow a recommended detour, taking in the sights of Holmes County. Once here, Rivka Katvan said, the couple fell in love with what they saw and decided to stay for the night in what she described as the most amazing bed and breakfast run by an incredibly kind family of innkeepers, the Hasseman House Bed & Breakfast in Wilmot.

"They were the most beautiful family, very warm, the children so polite, and we felt so good with them," said Rivka Katvan, who added that she felt comfortable enough in her lodgings that she helped the host and hostess serve the other guests. "They felt like family," she said, "and we will definitely stay there again."

The Katvans chose to spend the night in Holmes County, though their destination was less than two hours away, because they were eager to take in the breathtaking scenery.

"We could have gone to Columbus to sleep, but we decided to stay. I wanted to wake up in Amish Country, to take photographs of all of the beautiful places."

Moshe Katvan, who grew up just minutes from Rivka Katvan in Bat-Yam but didn't meet his wife until they were both studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, found the quaint scenery and rolling hills reminiscent of Tuscany.

"You travel to far-off places in other countries, all around the world, and here is this place right around the corner from us," gushed Rivka Katvan. "It's just so amazing. You can get amazing shots, because the place is gorgeous."

Because they only had a day to visit, and the weather was somewhat stormy during part of their stay, the Katvans have every intention of returning to collect more images of their favorite Holmes County towns.

"We definitely need more time. There is a lot to see, a lot to photograph. Everywhere we went, we saw a little schoolhouse here, and a country road there. We really want to see more of it, spend more time."

As to when they plan to return, Katvan said she hopes to come back and catch the fall foliage. She also loves shooting when there's snow on the ground, so they'll likely make another trip when there's a clean blanket of white covering the county.

"I think we'll be back in the winter, because you can get amazing shots then."

Regardless of when they return, Rivka Katvan will always hold Holmes County in her mind's eye and close to her heart.

You can see a few of Rivka and Moshe's photography of Holmes County by visiting http://www.katvan.com/amish/.

Published: June 30, 2011
New Article ID: 2011706309977