Throughout history, there have been many women who have offered courage and strength to others despite their own circumstances; however, Maya Angelou remains one of the loudest voices to reverberate – a voice for all nations and all times. Indeed, what could be more powerful than the following words she wrote for ‘Still I Rise’ where she says:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
In this excerpt, Maya Angelou refers to the freedom of the inner self to rise from the dust it has been thrown into and live up to its own expectation by being and instrument of hope.
Up till now, my work has been dedicated to individuality, personality and the capability to push forward the true self of each and every individual. I have always wanted to push and remind people the importance of being their true selves, after all, only you can be you and that is your power. Everyone is special and unique in their own way and I believe that the only way forward is to learn from each other. I have always wanted my work to reflect this and to be as real and raw as possible. In this way, it will not only enhance the beauty of individuality but uplift the viewer.
While I was shooting these remarkable women with different characteristics and beliefs, I always kept in mind one of the things which my very own remarkable woman, my mother, has instilled in me through example: that of respecting and seeking the best out in all people. One must always aim to find and bring out others’ inner beauty however deep it is buried inside them. Indeed, what is a photographer if not a person who is able to shine a light on those corners of others the world cannot always see?
As a man photographing these women, it was not only a privilege but a moment of reckoning with my own beliefs. I stand by these beliefs and believe in a world with no discrimination and labels. I stand by the equality and freedom of each and every individual. Working on these projects has continued to inspire me to seek out the hidden corners of people and give them a new life.
Peace and love