Women of a Certain Age. Part 5

This is the final part of this series. For now…The woman pictured here was selling hats on the square at Patzcuaro. Fred and Pinky and I took a recent trip there for a few days just to check it out. I have a friend here in San Miguel who has a wonderful hat from Michoacan, and I did have the idea of hat-shopping on my mind. Most of the hats that this woman had for sale were pretty generic, but there was a pile set aside that had the feeling I was looking for. I saw the perfect one. I tried it on. Perfect fit. It now appears on my head in my FaceBook profile picture.

This lady has a certain air about her. I don’t think she messes around much. I seriously doubt that anyone messes around with her. She was wonderfully dressed, in the Old Mexico style of the women you see further south. I somehow managed to get the nerve to ask if I could take her picture. I loved the way she looked. She said okay, without registering any emotion one way or the other. The fact that I hadn’t tried to bargain with her about the price of the hat probably earned me some points. There is something in a face like this that says, “I see through all the crap. Don’t waste my time.” I snapped three and my nerve ran out. This is the one I like.

I have no idea how many years on earth this woman has accumulated. She could be younger than me. I don’t even know her name, or any part of her story. I just know when I look in the mirror at my own face, I would like to see more of this kind of strength.

 

Women of a Certain Age. Part One.

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I am so moved and amazed by the older women I see in Mexico. There is a strength of character in their faces. Some of them have lived hard lives, but they are a true inspiration to me. The lady in these pictures is Publita, I see her occasionally on the streets of San Miguel. I always stop and give her money. She gives me a smile. She has so much personality. She seems like a force of nature. I know very little about her, but I always look for her when I am out and about. What a wonderful face she has. I am going to show you five women in this series. They are just the ones I have been lucky enough to capture. There are many more that got away. All of these faces have made me change some of my ideas about aging. I no longer see it as something to dread. I see it as something to aspire to.

You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down

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I was intrigued when I received a request from Dee Dee Renner to do her portrait. Dee Dee is a transgender performer at Play Night Club who has recently been recovering from a diagnosis of leukemia, and the chemo that followed. Earlier this summer she started to feel more and more exhausted, and when she went in to find out why, she received the bad news. She has spent most of her time since then going through what has had to be the most intense experience of her life.
Her support system has been amazing. Her mom, Joy, has been here with her the whole time. Her dad has spent a great deal of time in Nashville with her as well. Her employers and co-workers at Play have rallied to encourage
her, and there has been a page on Facebook, Prayers for Dee Dee, to keep her friends and fans up to date on her progress. On July 15, a benefit was held for her at Play, and she made a special Skype appearance. The exciting news now is that she will be at Play for her first live performance since before her diagnosis on September 6.
I have had the opportunity to photograph several people in the drag and transgender community, and I was honored that I was the person Dee Dee chose to record this time of her life. She wanted a really artistic portrait, not a promo head shot, to show that she was still herself, even though her hair was missing and the trials of her battle were showing on her face. I knew what she had in mind, and our photo shoot was, by its nature, very intimate. At the end, I was satisfied I had captured what we had in mind.
I believe that Dee Dee is on her way to a complete recovery, and I was inspired by her positive energy and strong attitude. I am sharing this photo as a tribute to her will to survive, and because it shows that even in the hardest of times, we can rise above the trouble and see the light ahead.

Dee Dee and Joy

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