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When I lived in Dubai back in the 1990’s, I wanted to take pictures of everything; the sprawling mansions, the roaming goats, and the women clad in black. I got the first two but the last was not allowed. And I wasn’t interested in being attacked with acid.
You’re curious now about the women clad in black, and the acid throwing accusers! We’ll start with the latter.
You see, some people took it upon themselves to judge others, specifically women - being judged by men. Women had not been given any rights yet, none that I was aware of. Acid throwers were especially keen on doing so to women who were not dressed properly. An ankle shown, a forearm visible.
I’d like to state that these restrictions have been altered since then. By what degree, I am not sure. It was quite a while ago. And Dubai is a beautiful place to visit!
And so, as a New Yorker, fresh from 10 years in the music & performing arts scene, this was all quite radical. How much did I have to cover? Of my body, that is.
Other than needing a written letter of permission from my husband to drive a car, I was permitted to dress as I liked. I was a westerner. But this freedom had its limits. God forbid I left the neighborhood. Just as in NYC, you had to know your way around. While one direction may take you to the theatre, another may take you to Hell’s Kitchen.
So I learned early on to dress wisely and only drive in areas deemed appropriate.
Back to photography.
This may come as a shock to many of you, but in the mid-late ’90’s cell phones had only been introduced, and did not come equipped with a camera. Lucky for me, I was used to carrying my pocket-sized Minolta with me wherever I went. And I went as far as I could go!
One of my early ventures out on my own (no - I was not wearing shorts) was to a nearby souk. This is the name used for a market. It was outdoors, and lined with tents resembling kiosks where men sold their wares.
There was an older man selling spices of every color! It was a beautiful picture to capture. I first asked permission, showing him my camera, miming my intent. He carefully pulled the white scarf wrapped around his head down to cover his neck and ears, then nodded permission.
Men, it seemed did not have quite the same reservation as women did about having their photo taken.
Women feared that if you took a photo of them, their spirit would be captured into the camera, never to be returned.
I pondered this. ‘Do they really believe this? Do men?’
As the saying goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans’. And so I honored these new customs, and learned to revere the spirit within each of us a little more deeply.
I asked a few photographers today whether they ‘captured the spirit’ of those whom they photographed into their photos. Here’s a bit about them, and this is what they had to say ….
When Grow 2 B U Studios was located in the Neighborhood of the Arts, Chrisom did as well. That was pre-covid. Although her main clientele is & was weddings, she offered to take photos of my studio. She did an amazing photo shoot of yoga asanas and sitting meditations. In my mind, she easily captured my spirit.
“So when I hear ‘capturing someone’s spirit through photography’ it absolutely makes me smile. Photography not only freezes time, but it captures a moment, a feeling, a path to bring you back to that memory, and this is why I love what I do.”
“We love our clients and love watching them grow through our lens. We pride ourselves in capturing the in-between moments, the moments that truly capture someone’s laugh, smile, tears, emotions. Our clients become our family.”
I asked if she only photographed weddings.
“Yes our main client base starts with weddings but then grow with maternity, newborns and family sessions. We love staying with our clients through all their special moments.”
Like a doctor, your personal photographer is always there for you! Thanks, Chrisom for sharing your light.
Dr Dawn Mamikunian
Speaking of doctors and wedding photography … Dawn was my wedding photographer! She later introduced me to the healing benefits of Accupuncture.
Just as Chrisom shared, our relationship continued and evolved. Dawn eventually became the PR photographer for my music career. Then, as I began my holistic health practice, she and I were in the same wellness group, Natural Alternatives.
In classic Chinese Medicine style, Dawn shares the following in regards to ‘capturing ones’ spirit in a photo.’
Healing with Qi through Photography and Acupuncture
I was told by a client that when she saw her photograph,
she had a different appreciation of herself.
A true healing and total self love.
A spontaneous healing of love and light.
To capture light which is energy,
Chinese call it qi or ones body life force,
a spontaneous healing can occur.
Qi energy photography love.
All the same.
Dawn’s clients are mostly woman between their 30-70s. I’ve come to love Acupuncture and highly recommend her healing work.
You’ve likely seen Renee at RWN (Rochester Women Network) events. She’s the charismatic creative carrying her camera around ready to click at a moment’s notice! Renee took an amazing photo shoot of me for my holistic business among the spring blossoms at Highland Park.
"I truly believe that the spirit can, in fact, be captured in a photograph. However, not in a negative way. Our spirit is in our eyes, in our smile, in our glance. The delight comes from capturing it within the photograph to be saved and cherished forever. Even if it’s not a joyful spirit, capturing that pure emotion is still very special. As a photographer, there are moments with I know immediately, that I caught it. It’s rare but always beautiful.”
Renée owns immaginé Photography. Her passion is working with Women-owned businesses, helping them to share their own passions through photographs. He approach is fun, casual, and relaxed.
“I bring my camera to your life—at your place of business, or at your favorite place in the world.”
Thank you to these amazing visual artists for sharing their gifts & insights!
Rest assured that while your spirit may be captured in a moment, and that moment may live forever, your spirit is always alive within you!
Creative Coach & Author, Alana Cahoon leads individuals to grow their businesses, expand their minds & heal their souls. www.AlanaCahoon.com
Read the Article on page 354 of the April 2021 issue of RochesterWomanOnline
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Alana writes her monthly column 'Mind, Body, Spirt' for RochesterWomanOnline focusing on the balance of all 3 in a creative manner, filled with inspiration.