Having met so many women during photo sessions, if I had to select one in honour of International Women’s Day, it would be a woman that I had the opportunity to meet a few months ago.
Last October, Rime called me to organize a last minute family photo session. She didn’t tell me which members of the family would be involved. I imagined Rime was a mother of two, probably because of the stress I heard in her voice when trying to find a time slot in what must have been a very busy schedule. At first, she suggested Montmartre, a lovely and photogenic area for family portraits. But instead, I suggested that Jardin des Tuileries was more suitable for a family, and she agreed! As I always do, I set the meeting point at the entrance of the garden on the Concorde side, so it’s easier for everyone. As soon as I arrived, she phoned me so we could find each other.
After a brief introduction, she brought me to the fountain not far from the entrance and introduced me to her parents. She explained that the photo session was a gift for her parents who were visiting for a couple days and she wanted to create nice memories for them. I said hello to the couple but we could not communicate much as they could not speak French or English. I’m not sure where they came from, but Rime gave them instructions in a language I could not understand nor recognize and I didn’t dare ask straight away. We started the walk through the terrace garden with its gorgeous view of Paris, and enjoyed the colorful autumn leaves on the trees and on the ground. It was all a lovely extension of the beautiful summer we’d had.
We couldn’t walk much since Rime’s parents would get exhausted, so we stayed around the terrace where there were hundreds of opportunities to create meaningful memories: greens chairs, Parisian benches, trees, fountains, nice views of Paris… What else can one ask for? The elderly couple played the game extremely well even though we could not understand each other. They were communicative in their own way, smiling and laughing when posing in front of the camera.
After half an hour of posing here and there, we stopped the photo shoot because the couple started to be tired and Rime walked with me to grab a coffee outside the garden to get change and pay me for the photo session. While just the two of us, we exchanged more intimate words and I finally asked her about their family story. Her family comes from Palestine and it had been a long time since she had seen her parents. They were growing old and she was not sure when she would have the opportunity to see them again. Recently, they had been rather depressed and she hoped that a photo shoot would make them feel better before they return home. Hearing those words, I got goose bumps all over and it reminded me of my own family story.
I was very touched by her words: “I managed to make them laugh and this is all that mattered to me. Thanks Paulette for your generosity”. This photo session is by far the most beautiful I’ve ever had, featuring an ageing couple in their seventies with a painful story but who can still find the energy to smile, laugh and have faith in life!