When I was in photography school one of the biggest lessons that stuck with me was on branding a successful business. They said to choose 3-5 words that described your brand and then go through your photographs and each one should evoke at least one of those words. Being the person I am, retaining little important tidbits and applying them to more than just photography, sometimes I try to use this principle for people. Describing them in a few words and each interaction with them evoking one of those no matter the situation. It's not always easy but it really helps analyze personalities and see how people are who they are and why they respond a certain way to situations. After photographing my dear friend Wafa, pictured below in photographs with her son, Hussein, nicknamed Sooni, how I would describe her is something I've thought a lot about.
A little back story to get the full picture of my relationship with her: We met on the first day of French classes last year. Two English speaking girls, struggling and trying to survive the frustrations and difficulties that come from learning a new language, moving to a new country and trying to integrate into a culture that's seemingly impregnable. Now, over a year later what seemed impossible proved do-able and the comfort that we thought could only be felt in our "home" country, seems to have crept in, slowly but surely, to make "home", right here. We've survived and triumphed the hardest part of the transition and now it's up to us to make our futures what we want them to be.
Wafa's 3 Words (according to me):
Laughter: Every time I see W, we laugh. Every. Single. Time. Trying to make light of the difficulties of being a mother, getting over a messed up batch of baked goods, laughing over the little things and the big. The easy and the hard. She's the kind of person who can't stand when someone doesn't feel well and does whatever she can to make them smile even for a moment.
Giving: Whether it's of her time, her last bite of cake, her advice or of her whole self to her husband and son daily.
Passionate: For the good and well-being of others, for the arts, for the best life for her family, for the best life for others. Some might say headstrong but I say a strong head is needed when you are standing up for what you believe in.
Every day, my job, my passion, enables me to discover new people, new personalities, make new friends, see new places, and capture a little part of the grace and light that people bring into the world. Wafa, for me, was an extra special pleasure yet challenge to photograph. To try and portray the deep beauty that I see in her is almost too much to really grasp in one photo.