I was recently asked by Barbara to come along and take some images of her to use for publicity purposes. Barbara was diagnosed with MS in 2012 and is a campaigner for the awareness of the condition and disability rights. Her book, ‘Stumbling In Flats’ was short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award in 2015 and her MA dissertation story, ‘Who Cares?’ was short-listed for the 2017 Exeter Story Prize. With an MA in Creative Writing she continues to talk about her life in her blog as well as undertaking the massive challenge of a PHD. It was a pleasure to meet and photograph such an inspirational woman.
It was International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 8th 2014. The notion for the movement is to ‘Inspire Change’ for more women’s involvement and voice, in many different frontiers of society. With may events going on throughout the World, I had my own little inspiring women’s day with two wonderful women volunteering to be my models. The sun was actually shining (this is rare in Wales) and so with my cameras packed to the beautiful forests and parks I trod … in my wellies of course.
I wanted to style the two shoots differently one more fresh and contemporary and the other with a bohemian and vintage edge. My models were the catalyst for these ideas, the styling of which I knew would better reflect their own personalities.
Inspiring 35+ women by taking portraits of them is my main aim for a forthcoming project. I was bored of seeing 22 year old models … looking gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but equally uninspiring. By a happy accident I was asked to take portraits of a friend who was transforming after a few years of re-adjusting following a painful divorce. She wanted me to take some portraits of her new found confidence as she moved forward from her past.
Dodging rain and hail showers we sludged our way in wellies to Cefn Onn Park in Cardiff. We spent the next two hours laughing and freezing in the intermittent rain and mud but the results of her inspired me to start a project. I feel the success of a portrait is not purely down to the photographer … portraits are a collaboration of trust. She trusted me and I her. I realised quickly when I uploaded them how they were far more inspiring to me than the samey images 22-year olds I see everyday. There on my screen was a woman 35+, a woman with a past, a woman with hopes and dreams, a woman with courage, a woman with many facets. She epitomised the type of woman I would like to photograph and so the Inspired Women idea was born. Watch this space!