This beautiful series of images popped up on my Facebook wall this morning and I wrote to the photographer, asking if I might share them. To put them together in this small montage, some cropping was involved. Apologies to Diny but the story is more about her than about them. I want it to be about her way of seeing and being, out there in the world ...
Diny and I met when she attended a photography workshop of mine. She flew in from Hong Kong. I arrived from Belgium. Two New Zealanders, together in Genova. We wandered and became friends. It turned out there was so very much to admire about her.
Seeing her series from Beijing this morning made me realise, again, just how lucky I am to have women like her come into my life. The photographs reminded me of the extraordinary privilege in meeting curious courageous wandering women like her. There have been so many now. With their permission, I would like to start sharing their stories, and photographs.
But Diny ... Introducing her series, she wrote, 'Yesterday snapped this guy who'd managed to find his little piece of peace and quiet in this city of 20 million. I showed him the photo and he insisted I get in the hammock so he could shoot me. I love these interactions. Beijing people are very friendly!
And I thought yes, the people are friendly but you have that sparkle, that curiousity, that courage too! And her eye ... in a city of 20 million she found this oasis of peace :-)
My client base seems to be made up of women living in countries not their own - but not always, I remember that small group of beautiful Genovese women I once spent the day working with in their city.
Women who are over 40 - but sometimes they're not. They all have this delightful spark though. Wise women, old souls who share deeply in the atmosphere that forms when women work together.
Women who are single, or have no dependent children, or women whose children are grown - but then again, sometimes none of this is true either.
My clients are women who are quite fearless and full of curiousity. They are usually intelligent, wise, and laughter is usually a feature of our time spent together. As is confusion, frustration and delight.
But sometimes it's all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway ... because they don't want to be fearful anymore. Fearful of traveling alone, fearful of photographing strangers, of asking permission to photograph those strangers, and most of all, fearful of the techno-speak that has confused so many of us when kind men explain things very very technically.
I have to confess that t took me years to break through and learn the simple equation that is how your camera works. That's what I share during these workshops, the simple equation via a series of exercises.
And so you can see, the workshops always end up being about more than photography. With Diny, and so many others, I also get to experience the benefits of their wisdom, knowledge and courage. I meet new heroes and role models.
I came away from my time with her, admiring so much about her and being able to keep up with her stories of life out here in the world ... it's simply inspirational.
I have this idea that we need more women like her to write of their lives, share the magic while being honest about the struggles too. Diny does that for me ... and sometimes, on a sunny Monday she gives me permission to share something of the beauty she found in a Chinese city of 20 million.
Grazie mille, Diny. For both the use of your photographs, and for your friendship.