International Women’s Day 2017: Woman Defined – An Online Photography Exhibit

‘Woman Defined’ – An Explanation Using One Word and One Photo

By Evelyn Hannon, Founder, JourneyWoman

The inspiration for this year’s photography exhibit is a direct result of the tawdry findings that fueled the #MeToo movement. As I watched events unfold in the media my mind kept going to a place far away from the stories I was being told. That is … A woman is made up of so many strong and beautiful facets that are overshadowed by the emphasis on the shape of her body. It was then that I knew what this year’s exhibit would be about.

And the photographs from around the world began arriving accompanied by words like:

Joyful
Hopeful
Perseverance
Pride
Rooted
Compassionate
and Modesty

I hope you will enjoy this exhibit of 35 photos as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

I congratulate each one of the photographers. Your entries make me proud to be a woman.

Sophisticated

I took this photo in Miyajima, Japan. When I visited the Itsukushima Shrine, I unexpectedly stumbled into a newly-wed couple having their marriage photo-shooting done. A photographer, a light technician, and a stylist guided the groom and the bride, adjusting their dresses, examining the light, studying the perfect pose in the most scenic background. The bride was enthralling. Sophisticated. Perfectly interpreting her role.

Photographer: Simon Falvo
Website: wild-about-travel.com
Instagram: instagram.com/1step2theleft

Content

I was visiting my sister in her home in the Gold Rush-town of Nevada City, California, when I saw this self-portrait she had done and noticed that she was wearing almost the same outfit. I asked her to put on the hat and sit beside the portrait so I could take her photograph. I am also content, because it turned out so well.

Photographer: Carole Terwilliger Meyers
Website: travelswithcarole.blogspot.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/caroletmeyers

Curious

This photo was taken while I was strolling through Jodhpur, India. The woman curiously came outdoors, eager to see who was exploring her neighborhood and why.

Photographer: Annette White
Website: bucketlistjourney.net
Instagram: instagram.com/bucketlistjourney

Celebrants

I took this in Boquete, Panama at a children’s Christmas party. These beautiful ‘tween girls are on the cusp of womanhood, celebrating each other and the occasion with painted faces.

Photographer: Betsy Wuebker
Website: passingthru.com
Instagram: instagram.com/passingthru

Happiness

This photo was taken in a fruit and vegetable market in Hyderabad, India. It shows a vendor of raw mangoes and her daughter. The mother was delighted to see her daughter (with her face puckering) biting into and enjoying one of the raw mangoes on sale.

Photographer: Aruna Chandaraju
Facebook: facebook.com/aruna.chandaraju
Twitter: www.twitter.com/arunachandaraju

Perseverance

This photograph was taken at the Pushkar Camel Fair, an annual livestock and cultural exhibition that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to a tiny town in Rajasthan, India. Through an interpreter, I was able to speak with this gorgeous, graceful fifteen year old single mother and was incredibly moved by her story of hardship and perseverance. Though extremely impoverished and forced to live a semi-nomadic life, her intense love for her young daughter and burning hope for a better future for them both was inspiring and unforgettable.

Photographer: Paula Roy
Website: Constantlycooking.com
Instagram: instagram.com/paulajroy

Pride

This photo was taken in rural South Africa 10 years after apartheid ended! We saw a group of older students walking along the road. This 17-year-old African woman embodies Pride, quiet strength & optimism for her future.

Photographer: Janet Hanpeter
Website: planetjanetravels.com
Instagram: instagram.com/planetjanettravels/

Rooted

This photo represents how women are rooted. Rooted in their family, their cultural traditions, their matriarchy. I took this picture of the great grandmother and matriarch of an Italian family in their multi-generational home on a hillside high above Sorrento in . She even seems rooted in her chair next to the fireplace as she keeps company with the dinner guests and occasionally watches over the newest great-grand baby in the family.

Photographer: Kristen Crittenden
Facebook: Facebook.com/KristenValentineCrittenden

Engaged

These two little Chinese dancers were not afraid to approach my husband after a performance at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Their personalities shone through their makeup and costumes and brought a smile to our faces.

Photographer: Irene S. Levine
Website: MoreTimeToTravel.com
Instagram: instagram.com/ILevine

Caring

When I asked this young mom in a Reykjavik, Iceland, shop for tips on where to buy their wonderful wool, we ended up talking about traditions. She had knitted this delightful outfit for her little girl. She told me Icelandic grandmothers knit a silk hood for each new grandchild which becomes a treasured keepsake.

Photographer: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis
Website: muckrack.com/ursula-maxwell-lewis
Instagram: instagram.com/ursulamaxwelltravels

Unbroken

This is a Bonda tribal woman in Orissa, India. Her ancestors were the indigenous peoples of India. I met her at a local market where she came to barter orchid liquor. Her tribe is matriarchal, and she is a proud land-owner.

Photographer: Shila Desai
Website: www.eyhotours.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/eyhotours

Boundless

I took this photo in the High Desert of Kenya at the Samburu Game Reserve while visiting a community of Samburu “Butterfly Women”. I chose the word “boundless” because women’s boundless love preserves and protects life. This young mother will fight to raise her baby where lions roam, water is scarce, and traditional practices can threaten life itself.

Photographer: Linda Higdon
Website: globalheartjourneys.net
Facebook: Facebook.com/WomensJourneyToKenya/

Gracious

I met this woman from Nablus, West Bank at a Save a Childs Heart Clinic. She had brought her son in for a scheduled cardiac check-up. We chatted and when I remarked on the beautiful colors and stylishness of her outfit, she was most modest and gracious in her response.

Photographer: Evelyn Hannon
Website: journeywoman.com
Instagram: instagram.com/evelynhannon

Future

I have taught students from all over the world for the past 14 years. This year I got to photograph two former students from Boston, Stacey (in red) and Savannah (in purple below) — now accomplished young women — surrounded by Mother Nature in Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. Beauty, joy, and the radiant potential of the future!

Photographer: Lillie Marshall
Website: www.AroundTheWorldL.com
Facebook: instagram.com/worldlillie/

Future

I have taught students from all over the world for the past 14 years. This year I got to photograph two former students from Boston, Stacey (in red) and Savannah (in purple below) — now accomplished young women — surrounded by Mother Nature in Boston’s Arnold Arboretum. Beauty, joy, and the radiant potential of the future!

Photographer: Lillie Marshall
Website: www.AroundTheWorldL.com
Facebook: instagram.com/worldlillie/

Sisterhood

From their sun kissed skin, to the coils and curls that grow from their heads, they are magical. These sisters are captured in Black & White to humanize, represent and display the raw souls of who they are. Black. Women.

Photographer: Stacey S. Hamilton
Website: stacehphotography.com
Instagram: instagram.com/staceh_photography

Happiness

I captured this woman outside her home in the Dong Village of Guizhou, China. She is the full-time caretaker of her granddaughter which appears to bring her much happiness.

Photographer: Debi Lander
Website: www.bylandersea.com
Instagram: instagram.com/bylandersea

Empowered

A Maasai mama proudly displays all the beaded jewelry she made. With the help of organizations like We.org, women in Kenya are using their beading skills to make a living wage and help them raise their families and communities out of poverty.

Photographer: Erica Ehm
Website: ehmco.com
Instagram: instagram.com/ericaehm

Hopeful

This fair maiden hails from the Jaunsari tribe based in the foothills of the Great Himalayas. The tribe has remained rooted to their historical roots and have shunned modern day living. The girl was photographed in Lakhamandal – a temple town, with several ancient folklores woven around it. However, today I see hope for her future because this area which has been so entrenched in its past and glorified history now has connectivity, exposure to advancement, schools and hopefully wider choices for profession.

Photographer: L. Aruna Dhir
Website: luckyaruna.blogspot.com

Forceful

This photo was taken in a village near Mombasa, Kenya. This woman is an environmental activist and had faced threats to her life when she took on a major corporation and got them to clean up massive pollution in a poor village. She gives the voiceless a voice and puts her life on the line.

Photographer: Leyla Giray Alyanak
Website: www.women-on-the-road.com
Instagram: instagram.com/womenontheroadpix

Grace

I took this photograph in Varanasi, India, at a place called the Jolly Music House. Here, I saw Kathak, a classic Northern Indian style of performance blending music, dance and storytelling. I was enchanted by this female dancer, who moved gracefully, yet quickly — so fast that at times she looked like a blur. Each move was done with intention and poise, despite the energy, devotion and hard work I’m sure it took to perform. While I certainly think womanhood is more than grace, I think this photograph and the story behind it portrays this characteristic perfectly.

Photographer: Jessica Festa
Website: jessieonajourney.com
Instagram: instagram.com/jessieonajourney/

 

Grandmother

A highlight of my tour of Japan was a visit to a Japanese home. The hosts I was assigned to were the grandparents of a little girl that lived with them. Our visit was very formal as we drank tea and learned about the language. Next came a flower arranging demonstration along with a look through their family album. Then, their granddaughter awoke from her nap and the mood of the visit changed. This little girl came into the room with a friendly outgoing smile and grandma melted. Gone was her formality as we watched her interact with the child. Grandmothering is a treasured stage of a woman’s life as she adds her wisdom and experience to her grandchildrens’ upbringing.

Photographer: Evelyn Hannon
Website: journeywoman.com
Instagram: instagram.com/evelynhannon

 

Proud

Jenise Bob of St’at’imc Nation raised an eagle feather fan, a show of respect and honour to the drum as she performed a women’s traditional dance. Jenise proudly shared her culture at a 3-day Indigenous Festival in the heart of downtown Victoria, British Columbia.

Photographer: Andrea Rees
Website: andrearees.com
Instagram: instagram.com/andreareesphoto

 

Compassionate

I spied this weathered woman sitting in the corner of a small square in Kotor and I stopped to say hello. She couldn’t speak my language and I couldn’t speak hers. Words weren’t really necessary; I surmised her face reflected her story. Her empathetic eyes spoke of experience, compassion and wisdom.

Photographer: Evelyn Hannon
Website: journeywoman.com
Instagram: instagram.com/evelynhannon

 

Story Teller

Gael Gallagher shares the history and culture of her home town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, with visitors and locals alike. With Irish wit and wisdom Gael weaves a tale that, like a good book, will leave you wishing it would never end. For Gael, education and entertainment are one and the same.

Photographer: Penny Sadler
Website: adventuresofacarryon.com
Instagram: instagram.com/adventuresofacarryon

 

Motherhood

This photo was taken in Peru on a market day in the Sacred Valley near Cuzco. Here, motherhood is an important aspect of womanhood. In remote villages, old traditions endure and women are still busy with traditional labour. There are no daycare centers; mothers watch over their children while doing their chores (like this woman in the photo who is busy spinning wool).

Photographer: Diane Gagné
Facebook: Facebook.com/Diane Gagné

Loyalty

Nuns always travel in twos; they’ve got each other’s back like other BFFs. We noticed these two women, loyal to the church and to each other, leaving the Orvieto Cathedral with its extraordinary mosaic facade.

Photographer: Irene S. Levine
Website: MoreTimeToTravel.com
Instagram: instagram.com/ILevine

Persistent

Collecting water is one of many tasks women in Ethiopia’s Hamar tribe are responsible for. This woman has spent most of the day walking to the dry Keske River in the Omo Valley and she is clearing the top layer of a small puddle to dig deeper for more. Access to water is a daily challenge for the villages in this region, especially in the harsh dry season and it requires the persistence, endurance and strength of the women.

Photographer: Kellie Netherwood
Facebook: facebook.com/mydestinationunknown
Instagram: instagram.com/kellienetherwood/

Composed

This photo was taken during a Save a Child’s Heart mission to Zanzibar. This young woman had life-saving open heart surgery as a child and was being seen for a follow-up. Not only is she perfectly healthy now, but she is pregnant with her 3rd child, and was able to see an ultrasound of her healthy baby. Her beauty was radiant and only matched by her strength.

Photographer: Rachel Schwartz
Website: mysachjourney.wordpress.com
Instagram: instagram.com/punnygirl

Chums

These two, now in their 90s, have been friends since grade school and have shared much of their adult lives together, too. After raising families in their hometown and surviving their husbands, they live in the same assisted-living facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When out-of-town daughters are visiting, these chums enjoy lunch outings and discovering what’s new in town, even though they suffer their day-to-day ailments separately. Here they simultaneously peer across the parking lot to read a sign, quietly competing to see who can solve the mystery first.

Photographer: Kristin Henning
Website: travelpast50.com
Instagram: instagram.com/travelpast50

Joyful

During the Grenada Spice Mas Carnival, the streets are alive with songs and colorful spectacles of islanders in celebration. This young lady was singing the sweetest song and was so much a part of the Carnival that her joyful face always makes my heart so happy!

Photographer: Lisa Chavis Cheryl MacDonald
Website: www.whatboundariestravel.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/whatboundaries

50

Protection

This photo was taken high in the Andes Mountains of an Quechua woman and her child. She has a firm grasp on the child and will not let anything happen to her or the baby alpaca she carries in her K’eperina.

Photographer: Veronica James
Website: facebook.com/gypsynesters
Instagram: instagram.com/gypsynester.com

Sweet

This lady walked for hours by my side as I hiked through the rice terraces of Sapa, in the north of Vietnam. At times it was so steep and slippery but each time she held out her hand to help me. She never complained or was tired. When we stopped I turned to see the sweetest smile on her face. Yes, from inside to out, this lady has a sweet personality.

Photographer: Ruth Johnston
Website: exploramum.com
Instagram: instagram.com/exploramum/?hl=en

Modesty

There are no mirrors in this Maasai village in Africa. When she’s shown a digital photo of herself on someone’s phone, this student sees what she looks like for the first time. She laughs with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.

Photographer: Erica Ehm
Website: YMC.ca
Instagram: instagram.com/ericaehm

Fierceness

This photo tells the story of very capable, resourceful, and fierce young girls. These budding equestrians encounter challenges every day that push their mental and physical limits, and they face the challenges with a tenacity that makes me happy for their future adult selves. Between their grit and the examples of generations of other fierce women surrounding them, nothing is outside their reach. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “The question isn’t what are we going to do. The question is what aren’t we going to do.”

Photographer: Katja Wulfers
Website: katjawulfers.com/
Instagram: instagram.com/katjawulfers/

Love

I thought about what was a big representation of womanhood and decided to submit this picture – a woman kissing a man’s forehead. Women represent a big beautiful part of giving, not only life, but love.

Photographer: Jenny Taylor
Facebook: Facebook.com/jenny.taylor.5623
Instagram: Instagram.com/kristinetaylorr98

Creativity

This photograph was taken at the Dreamweavers Exhibition in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. This annual cultural celebration and sale showcases weaving, pottery and other fine artisanal work by indigenous Mixtec and Zapotec women in Oaxaca. This woman is a member of the Aguilar family from Ocotlan Oaxaca, a family of master clay potters renowned for their painted ceramic muñecas (figures). Each artist creates unique and distinctive folk art pieces representing themes from traditional village life, religious beliefs and whimsical interpretations of characters such as Frida Kahlo, the Virgin of Guadalupe and mermaids. She is creative, imaginative and accomplished.

Photographer: Michele Peterson
Website: ATasteforTravel.ca
Instagram: www.instagram.com/atastefortravel

Spirited

This is Granny Sabina, about 90 years old, who lives in the Kavango region of Namibia. She greets everyone, even strangers, with smiles and cascades of laughter; she has even danced with me, still holding her walking stick in one hand. In spite of her long life full of emotional and physical hardships, she carries a deep-rooted beauty in her wrinkles, and an ineffable spirit that pulls everyone around her into a bubble of joy.

Photographer: Shara Johnson
Website: skjtravel.net
Instagram: instagram.com/skjtraveler

More on International Women’s Day

Evelyn Hannon

Evelyn started Journeywoman in 1994, and unknowingly became the world's first female travel blogger. She inspired a sisterhood of women, a grassroots movement, to inspire women to travel safely and well, and to connect women travellers around the world. She passed away in 2019, but her legacy lives on.

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