Joanna Bowers is a woman on a mission. As a producer, filmmaker and mama she has always been passionate about telling stories while communicating larger issues. Inspired by her own helper’s story – and domestic helpers in Hong Kong – she set off to create an eye-opening (and hopefully “heart-opening”) documentary about these women’s lives.
This photo project was something I undertook whilst filming in China. I was there shooting some sustainability CSR content in Hebei province which took the form of a short documentary about cotton farmers implementing sustainable cotton farming practices. The project was a collaboration between the Better Cotton Initiative and several government and private sector NGOs.
I had a polaroid camera with me in my camera bag and when this first elderly farmer showed an interest in what we were filming I showed him some of our equipment and he was fascinated. I quickly understood that he’d like me to take a photo of him – and then our interpreter explained that he’d actually never possessed a photo of himself.
Quite quickly this became habitual – as a thank you to the farmers for helping us out by allowing us to film on their land or to film them working, we would offer to take a portrait for them to keep.
I loved seeing their individual reactions to the shots and where they would put them afterwards to keep them safe!
From their reactions when handed the photos it became pretty evident that for so many of these villagers it was their first time seeing themselves on film!