When you have your first child you become privy to the most well guarded secret: you have just signed on for the most important and permanent job of your life. It looks so easy. Everyone does it. Our parents did it. Our friends and neighbors seem to do it. And then your child arrives! I used to hold important job after job before having my child, each with a heavy series of responsibilities, but I dove into them armed with the knowing in the back of my mind that I can just quit when I choose to. Then came the parenting job, and I realized that this is one job I can never quit!
I would not exchange this job for any other in the world because it is the gift that keeps on giving.
Day 58 of 365~
Image taken of my 8 year old daughter overlooking the valley of the saints in Lebanon, 2012
and I cannot imagine a world that is void of color~ Seoul
I heard once that babies smile the first time they see a rainbow through their tears and it makes them want to cry again to see the miracle of color. Beauty can be so overwhelming that it does make us cry, and life is one beautiful miracle after another. How sad it is that we sometimes forget.
I have often tried to describe in so many different ways why I love street photography so much above any other style, but then come moments to me in the streets that redefine it all for me, the whole love affair. Today, I received this incredible gift, a window opened, a moment magically presented itself and I was showered with an overwhelming emotion at the magic of it all. A shabby alley in a condemned neighborhood of Shanghai, perhaps a month away from certain demolition, a little girl with an angelic face, an old worn out leather sofa juxtaposed on the side of the alley in a most unusual place, an old bike nearby and her face searching mine making time stop, and me with a heart beating very fast raising my camera to try and capture magic through the lens and knowing it will be an image I would treasure for the rest of my life.
After 5 days of being around these beautiful people in the mountains of Yunnan’s Honghe area, my two traveling companions and I realized that we had not seen a single other foreigner around since our arrival, and we knew that we and our ways must appear so strange to the locals. I had brought a small polaroid camera with me to offer small photos as gifts, and to my utter surprise, most of the older people had no idea that the photos were theirs. They would look at the photo after taking it from me, look at, smile and give it back wondering why I was showing them these people printed on the paper. It was so brilliant and such a great privilege to witness a culture still separated from modernism and its grip.
The simpler the people the easier it is for them to smile…
Have you noticed how in the so-called civilized and developed countries, you end up praying for the sun to shine to get a half-smile out of people in the street? We have complicated our modern lives so much that we end up dragging ourselves around miserably with the weight of problems that we took on voluntarily. Then you meet people in developing countries whose lives are simple, whose worries, as big as they may be, are straightforward and uncomplicated so they can smile so easily from ear to ear when prompted!
When I met this man in Kashgar and tried to photograph him and talk to him with my conversational chinese and his Uyghur dialect, we just ended up standing there in the middle of midday traffic just grinning at each other like two simpletons 🙂
In me this moment lives as one of life’s precious gifts valued and not to be forgotten.
It is given by gentlemen to their lady friend as a gift, it used to be gifted to other governments as a sign of friendship, it is used in folk dances, it comes in different sizes, shapes, folding, fixed, small, large, painted, carved… and it is very beautiful.
It has been a staple in China’s culture for over 3 thousand years, the fan. It’s original purpose was for creating a breeze in warm days, and it was made from a wide variety of materials like bamboo, feathers, silk, sunflowers, paper among several other materials. It is one of the delicate things that say ‘China’ and a certain part of the culture that is still very much alive and held on to and celebrated. I love watching the lady dancers with their fans every morning in the streets of Shanghai who move with so much grace and charm!
In just a few hours, I will be heading to the airport for a flight to Urumqi, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the largest province located in North Western China. It spans a very large area, 1.6 million square kilometer and is bordered by Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Lea knows that on each of these photography trips, I would be meeting a lot of street children and photographing them and she had the idea to help me package small shiny bags with little toys from her room and a few colored pencils to give to each child.
We had a very busy day preparing for this trip and I am so looking forward to delve into the unknown again. I will be gone until the 17th, but I might be able to still post daily as I find internet available.
Today I had an exchange of thoughts with a friend, it was brief, but it had enough power to stir up some deeper contemplations as life is sometimes so magical…
And I dwelled a lot on photography, on the reason we do it, the purpose for it and what it can actually do as an art form. The word revelation came to mind. Later looking at my photos from today, I stopped at this one and thought again, revelation. There is a very brief moment that can often and most of the time be missed in our rushed lives, where some truth coming from somewhere is revealed to us if we choose to stand still to receive it. It is crystal clear, in focus and it stands out in the middle of all the chaos. It is a moment of clarity… a gift, a revelation.