In this book is a collection of portraits of women and girls that I have gathered on my travels over the years: working in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, traveling in Iran, India, Thailand and Japan, and working again in Mexico and the Americas.
The truth is that even though I have been fortunate enough to at least briefly meet all of the women pictured in this book, I nonetheless still know next to nothing about the vast majority of them. It’s the click of the shutter that briefly united us for a split second without ever knowing each other’s names or backgrounds.
And yet, looking back through all the different faces on the pages that follow, it strikes me just how many stories can rise up through the images. I see women working, protesting, holding banners, tending to their children; caked in make up or laughing, dancing, sitting, praying. There are beggars, schoolgirls, nuns, strippers, brides and witches; some that are old, some that are just breaking their first teeth, and some that weren’t even born as girls. But I nonetheless see their collective portraits as a strong testament to the powers of womanhood.
After a stint travelling around the Middle East in early 2005, Vanessa Able settled in Istanbul and began to work as a correspondent for the Hewler Globe, northern Iraq’s first English-language weekly newspaper. During this time she also started contributing to Time Out Istanbul magazine, and in December 2005 became the Editor-in-Chief of its English edition. In addition to editing the monthly publication, Vanessa started writing about Istanbul for the Observer and Guardian newspapers, as well as other magazines such as Gulf Life, Taste Anatolia, before going on to contribute to Conde Nast’s concierge.com travel website. Moving to Mexico City in 2007, Vanessa is now a freelance writer and reporter contributing to Esquire and National Geographic Traveler in Mexico City, as well as the New York Times. She has also worked extensively on two Time Out Guidebooks: Istanbul and Mexico City, and authored a book of walking tours in Istanbul for Insight Guides published in 2009.