I was challenged to choose my favorite photo from last year and write a blog post about it when I came across a website called Social Print Studio and saw some of their favorite photos from 2015. Social Print Studio is a San Franscisco-based company that creates really cool metal prints and photo books.
I take well over a thousand photos each month - some months I take 3000-5000 photos if I have visited somewhere special - so picking a favorite wasn't an easy task at all. But I like this epic photo that I chose as my favorite so much that it also graces my photo blog as its header.
My favorite photo from 2015 is one that my husband actually took of me with several young Saudi women at the huge IECHE Education Fair that was held in Saudi Arabia's capital city of Riyadh in April 2015. This annual fair is attended by thousands of Saudi students and their parents who are searching for the right institution of higher education for their child's chosen field. The CPVPV (Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a.k.a. Saudi Arabia's religious police) even has a large booth at the event, trying to recruit new trainees. The event is open to all and is free. Hundreds of universities and technical schools from all over the world are represented, trying to attract students to their programs. It is quite an impressive event.
Because of my ready smile, rosy complexion and light hair, I am frequently asked by total strangers here in Saudi Arabia to pose for photos with them. These young ladies approached me at our booth and asked me if I would mind having my picture taken with them. Of course I obliged!
Even though the quality of this photo could be a little better, what I love about this photo is that it dispels the notion that Saudi women are oppressed or unapproachable and it shows how really normal they are.
They just dress differently - that's all!
I love how you can actually see their eyes smiling even though you can't see their smiles underneath their veils.
I love that the one young woman is taking a selfie of us - such a typical and normal thing that most people do around the world now, yet it's something that outsiders may not ever imagine Saudi women would do because of the unfortunate misconceptions about them.
I love that these veiled women were as interested in me as I was in them.
I love that they all hugged me afterwards before they went on their way, leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling that many people may never experience because their hearts and minds are not open to it.
I chose this photo because I love the feelings I get when I see it and how it gives me hope that one day we can all live together in peace and understanding and that we can accept and appreciate one another, differences and all.