How many times have we been misunderstood? How often have others mistaken the outside for the inside?
When I spotted this woman in the flower market in Antigua, Guatemala. the urge to take her photograph overtook me. Why? There was no time to explore why? I go by instinct when photographing. In daily life, recovery has taught me to stop and think before taking action, but when photographing people on the street, there’s little time for that. So I approached her slowly, step by step, trying to remain invisible—that’s important to sustain and capture a moment.
But with this woman, there was no chance of staying invisible. She, too, saw me right away. And wanted something as well, money. So I gave her a few coins and started shooting. Then she asked for more. When I didn’t hand it over, she grew angry—this was the moment I savor the most. Her defiance, her anger. So true, so genuine…
Since I speak just basic Spanish, I couldn’t tell her that I wasn’t the woman she saw on the surface. That she shouldn’t confuse my outside for my inside. That she needn’t envy me for my smooth skin, new clothes, expensive camera—my material world. That I was photographing her because I wanted to savor her spirit, her strength and her fierce sense of pride. That most women to the north needn’t worry about food, shelter, clothing, but they scrounge for other things. Vital things like their souls and their selves.
She completely misunderstood.
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©Meryl Spiegel 2012–All rights reserved–No reproduction without permission.