These recent images from my Instagram page have been titled “chasing spirits”, and for the first time I find myself seeing a distinct line running through these street portraits that were taken by me in different Asian countries but solicit the same emotional reaction from me. There is something that draws me in to the internal processes of strangers through the maps of their faces, the history recorded in their eyes and the roadmaps of their lives in every line and wrinkle that cause me to pause and wonder: what drives me to chase these images and irks me to go to more places and stop, look and capture? It’s a strong driving force that never relents and I am hoping that after the chase, the cause may reveal itself. It’s a journey of passion and every moment brings me closer to myself…
As I began to write my blog tonight, I received the breaking news notification of yet another horrible school shooting in America. How tragic to hold back the future by cruelly eliminating its ambassadors. Whatever the cause, whatever the trigger, how can this be prevented?
How unnatural for a life to go before it’s reached its potential!
After having travelled to faraway places, they become part of you. Their people, the colors, the smells, the feelings and emotions that define each place are always at hand ready to reconnect you to that place in a split second. It is the most amazing thing. And with photography: that connection is instantaneous. A frozen moment like this of 3 girls in a New Delhi slum comes to life and buzzes with feeling when I connect to it once again. And isn’t life a continuous stream of such frozen moments?
There is a place on the bank of the Ganges River in the holy city of Varanasi, where more than 300 bodies get cremated daily and the ashes thrown into the river with the belief that the soul of the dead will be allowed a chance at a new life through reincarnation. Hindus from all over India and Asia carry their dead to award them that honor. I sat for a long time on a boat watching the burnings and the surreal picture they painted while this regal bird circled around the ghat reminding me of the certain mortality of the physical body. It was eerie in a good way, because life begs us to question death and death urges us to value life.
When you love photography and have the tugging urge to travel the world and see as many humans as you can, you end up staring into so many different faces. Some of these faces are simply unforgettable. This girl had a strength of spirit that radiated out of her as she stood there defiantly and curiously questioning the stranger in her village. She stood her ground and all I could do was smile in awe.
Over time I have come to believe that the simpler life is a secret key to satisfaction of the right kind. We often feel overwhelmed with our lives, with our possessions and the responsibilities that accumulate as an aftereffect of these possessions and where do we run to? A beach, a forest, a long walk, or a meditation. They say hard work is the best remedy for an idle and restless mind, and maybe something in our design needs us to be busy and rewards us with happiness.
This beautiful girl was walking along the village road with a sack of small rocks on her head that she was taking home for a small building project. I followed her for a while till she caught on and turned around and gave me this dazzling smile followed by shy giggles. I was in the presence of pure and uncomplicated happiness.
Someone very wise once said: “happy people attract essences” . Such a true statement and how contagious is a smile! In my street photography around the world I find myself mostly walking around with a goofy smile while I interact with people in their daily lives. Brief moments shared and remembered for a long long time.
Photo of this lovely lady taken in a slum in New Delhi earlier this year.
Another day ends and I sit here to write my thought before the clock ticks midnight. I chose this image from a New Delhi slum to remind those of us who have our comfortable homes and apartments to be thankful for all that we have.
The amazing speech of Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globe awards is still resonating in me today with its powerful and poignant attention to the issues that women of the world face today and how it’s more than ever time for a radical change. She caused me to think of all the stories I have heard throughout my life growing up in Lebanon and feeling fury at the roles women and girls were forced to adopt. In some places in the Middle East women can be legally killed if there is any “suspicion” of adulterous behavior. Dead before proven innocence is the way to go.
I am thrilled for the amazing women in the entertainment industry and their #metoo campaigns, but who is fighting for the rights of the forgotten women in places like India, Africa and the Middle East among many others. It’s #themtoo.
I took this image last April in the slums of Delhi where girls hide behind doors and windows andhesitate to shine in the glory they were born into.