I am very happy to welcome my friend Elvyra.
She is my friend.
We met through her son Valentino, who is also my friend.
Our friendship has been going strong since 2009.
When she agreed to participate in this project, I felt and knew she would be a wonderful addition to this conversation, I was not wrong.
Elvyra comes from Lithuania and has made London her home.
The word inspiration is perfect for her because you she left behind her family and friends coming to England and not being able to speak a word of English. Whilst working she attended school to learn to speak English - her English is perfect.
Why am I so inspired by Elvyra?
As we spoke and shared our lives, I was deeply moved by her story and vulnerability.
She shared stories of her life growing up in a large family of brothers and sisters. Her life was not easy, it was a testing ground for her identity and self expression.
We all have challenges in life and it would be easy to blame life. Please consider this; life is on our side, life happens FOR US not AGAINST US. Who we become, is the point, how we choose to live in the face of our challenges shapes our humanity.
Elvyra is a woman who embraced life and discovered her power and will to live life on her own terms.
She runs her own business in London; a gorgeous coffee shop, people love her, her coffee shop is a haven for the local community of North London. Her personality radiates warmth and compassion for others.
Look at her photograph.
The instant I created this image I was STUNNED.
I was excited for her to see the image on the back of my camera.
As I was directing her how to pose, she fell so NATURALLY into this position and I caught this moment. It is beautiful and communicates confidence, approachability, a subtle hint of vulnerability and yet, I can feel her will, courage and strength of character. A character born out of trials and confronting life.
Now, when she saw the image on the back of my camera, she looked surprised, delighted and slightly shy.
Why I thought?
It occurred to me that seeing herself like this, in this split second, caught on camera, made her feel, IS THIS REALLY ME?
Yes it is Elvyra, take it from me.
I have photographed enough people to know when someone is not being real.
She is real, authentic and lovable.
What do you see looking at her image?
How do you feel?
When I asked Elvyra what does beauty mean to you, she told me “it’s all inside, beauty is inside. Trust is very important to me”
Beauty = TRUST
Right there, you can see her expression in the world, Elvyra is all about trust and rapport. Yes, she is a very beautiful women in terms of her DNA composite and yet her inner beauty goes deeper, if she trust you, you have friend, you have a confidant, you have an extraordinary champion in your life.
This is a gift and treasure beyond price.
I came away with something of value. It occurred to me that this project is all about exposing women to their deeper beauty, they must see and feel inspired by who they are.
We cannot see ourselves as others see us, the camera doesn’t care, it will record the truth and or lie. Either way, the final image will reveal the “truth” of either the “truth or the lie”.
This project is all about accessing the truth, supporting my ladies through conversation so that they trust me and themselves enough to just surrender and allow their natural expression to shine through. My skill as a photographer will do the rest - immortalise an authentic expression forever.
This is a beautiful thing to me.
Thank you Elvyra, you gave me a wonderful gift. xxx
Please welcome Teresita to this conversation.
My friend Karen introduced us and she represents my first conversation with someone I have just met.
Yes, we met today and took off, no barriers, nothing in the way as far as I was concerned.
Consider this, meeting someone new can be intimidating and uncomfortable for a lot of people. Given the fact that this conversation is a celebration of women, beauty, and everything else that may come up in conversation, man, that’s a BIG conversation to engage in for two people who do not know each other.
Well, my approach to every person I meet is to greet them with an open hand, an open heart and an open smile.
This is magic, it works.
Rapport is at the very heart of this project.
Rapport = Trust
Trust is the access to deep and profound sharing - to share freely without fear is the pathway to connection, acceptance and relatedness.
Teresita comes from Venezuela and has made London her home, she works in the very specialised field of Health & Wellness.
As she spoke and shared about her work supporting others, I could see her inner beauty of compassion, love, contribution and service. Her choice of career is an indication of her spirit of compassionate generosity.
Our conversation about beauty was easy and flowed effortlessly.
When I asked her what does beauty means to you, she responded by saying, “beauty to me is about kindness, happiness compassion”. She elaborated by saying, “compassion is important, I would put this as number one”. When she said that, I could understand her nature; she is a women who genuinely cares about the well being of others, how could she not given her choice of career?
I really admire Teresita because her life now as she put it, has been full of upsets and yet she chose to deal with it head on. With courage and determination, she discovered her true worth and reconnected with her self love, now she is the access and catalyst for others to have this same experience for themselves.
I really enjoyed meeting her, I found her energy and expression light, friendly, a subtle hint of vulnerability mixed with a hard core foundation of spiritual strength. This is quite a formidable women and yet dare I say, truly LOVABLE.
Look at her photograph what do you see?
When I sent this image to her I asked her, what do you see?
She said, “I go straight to the eyes. I see something I never really saw before and it’s wisdom and deep sense of knowingness and knowledge”.
The camera doesn’t lie, how can it? It’s a black box with a hole in it so that light can enter and capture the pure authentic truth.
My conversation with Teresita opened the door to her heart so that she would feel safe in allowing me to see and capture her truthful expression.
When a woman allows me this moment to see her like this, I consider it gift, a privilege.
Thank you Teresita xx
This is my dear friend Laura.
She is an extraordinary human being.
We first met at The Magic Circle. Being both professional magicians we share a deep love for our craft and bringing joy and happiness to others.
If you experience Laura’s show, you will feel her deep desire to make you happy.
We spoke at length today.
Our conversation covered, Magic - being a woman in a male dominated craft, Beauty, Life and being real. I listened deeply to her sharing, her vulnerability impacted me deeply. She always wanted to be a Magician, study Magic and learn from the best.
Her story was full of personal challenges, I was impressed by her courage to fight back. Her determination and commitment saw her join The Magic Circle and then she was able to fulfil her dream.
She had to find her own way, this meant saying “NO” to situations that no longer worked for her. This decision meant taking the road less traveled.
At times in our conversation I saw my life in her story. It takes courage to take a stand for yourself, Laura did this and embraced an aspect of our craft that really got my attention.
One day, she rang me up and said, “Hey Mike, I am studying Sleight of Hand Card Magic”.
If you know anything about me and my work you will know that Card Magic is my first love, this is my self-expression. Laura was serious, she applied herself to this very difficult branch of Magic and has become a terrific voice and presence for women in Magic.
This is beautiful because she has her own show called "CHEAT" and presents an evening of Sleight of Hand that is fantastic.
Laura London The Magician is a delightful experience.
Who is Laura the Woman, the beauty beneath the pretty face, the dynamic attention grabbing RED hair?
This is what I was actively listening for and searching.
I found her.
Look at her photograph.
I love it, do you?
I see someone confident, approachable and yet there is a subtle hint of uncertainty or vulnerability.
This to me is endearing.
I also sensed from being with Laura a deep desire to love and be loved.
I asked her, what does beauty mean to you?
In her own words, she said, “ Beauty is kindness, passion and love. True beauty is reflected in your soul. Smiling at others even when you are having a bad day, complimenting someone and meaning it, most importantly being the best person that you can be”.xxx
This expression by Laura reveals her true nature - she has retained her youthful childlike spirit of love, freedom, adventure and the perpetual quest for happiness.
In the face of life and all its drama, she generates the smile on her face first.
This smile is her gift to the world and what follows is the real magic of her generous happy spirit. If you ever meet her, be as equally generous in how you respond to her. This symbiotic relationship is what keeps Laura engaged with life, love and the pursuit for happiness.
I am happy beyond measure to have my dear friend Denise contributing to this celebration of Women and Beauty.
Take a moment and just be with the gorgeous stillness she exudes in her image.
What thoughts are going through your mind?
Honestly, how do you feel as you look at her image?
As soon as I saw this image on the back of my camera, I knew I had captured the magic moment, that magical expression.
What I find fascinating about this project is the simple fact that I have no idea before hand what that expressions will be like, all I know is, I will feel it during the shoot.
Denise gave me this moment and expression and it touched my heart.
It is simple.
We spent the afternoon talking about our lives; we shared openly about the challenges we were dealing with. I shared about my mother and my current situation being deaf. So we got profoundly related to each other. We understood each other and our respective worlds.
To share so openly with her was easy for me I simply love her. She is the mother of my best friend Julian. From the moment I first met her, she was open, warm inclusive and I just felt a big part of her family. This has been the beauty of our relationships for close to 20 years.
Denise understood the context of this project and her point of view about beauty was simple. In her own words, she said. "Beauty for me is a warm feeling I get from others".
Think about what she has described – “a warm feeling I get from others”. This landed on me very powerfully. I interpreted this warm feeling as one of feeling safe in the company of someone. This safety allows for the possibility to relax and share openly.
Warmth, openness, stillness, vulnerability, love and a generosity of spirit are the beautiful virtues I experience from being in Denise’s company.
This is the beauty I look for in people, in women, this is the beauty of the spirit and soul. This is the experience of Denise you will have if you have the pleasure of being in her company.
One thing creates the other; a warm heart seeks out and responds to other warm hearts.
This is the will of the living force and it is at work perfectly in Denise.
Thank you for reading.
I am very happy to welcome Rosie on board in this celebration of Women.
I first met Rosie through our mutual Friend Martina and I could feel her warmth and humanity. I experienced her as being friendly, open and willing to engage.
When I asked her how she felt about this project, she replied; "I wanted to support this project because I felt it would be uplifting for women".
I was really happy to hear that; I could see and feel right away what was important to Rosie. My conversation with her revealed a women who is passionate about being someone who can inspire and uplift others.
Rosie comes from the USA and is in the arts - she teaches Acting to students and right away, I could see a massive contribution being made to others.
We both come from the arts, with me being a magician, I could completely understand her feelings about her career choice, being a creative and the exploration that comes from travelling, seeing the world, learning about different cultures and what our respective art forms can teach us about ourselves in relation to others.
In Roise, I sensed a women exploring and celebrating her life, open to new experiences and learning about this voyage of self discovery.
One question I always ask is; What does beauty mean to you? she respond by sharing "Beauty to me is the light within soul. True beauty is when we see that light in each other".
I am amazed by the different ways in which this concept of beauty has been expressed by the women I have spoken to so far. Rosie's reflections reveals to me a deep spiritual insight and belief that we are all beautiful, we just need to open the eyes of hearts and see deeply into each other.
When you read that Beauty = LIGHT, what comes to mind?
For me, I am present to Rosie's joy of life, her willingness to be genoruse in sharing herself, being open and fully self expressed.
Take a moment and just be with the image I created of her.
Do you experience her beauty as Light?
I will leave you to decide.
For now, I am grateful that I have met Rosie and spent time in her company. Our conversation was short, however, I got the point about her and what beauty means to her.
One more thing; I asked her how does she want people to feel when they see her photograph, she said "Happy"