The Indians have a saying, "If you want to understand anyone, you have to walk a mile in their shoes!"
This is something that photographic essayist Amy Martin-Friedman has taken to heart in her series A Day In My Shoes, which features women in their most prized shoes – Chanels, Manolos, Luboutins, YSLs, etc. These shoots are neither for the sake of vanity nor monetary gain: the pictures magically capture the heart of the person and do so with great intimacy, and different charities are the beneficiaries of the proceeds from the series; indeed, Ms. Friedman's goal is to give something to the world through her lens.
A remarkable feature of this photographic series is that one only sees the shoes and sometimes the lower body of the woman in the shoes, yet somehow one feels one knows that woman, and intimately so. This is the mark of a great photographer, who knows not only how to shoot, but what to shoot and when to shoot, and, of course, how to tell a story. Each presentation in A Day In My Shoes does tell a story: the photo freezes a moment in time, a moment to be savored. Ms. Friedman, a photographer for twenty years, has developed an uncanny ability to connect with her subjects; in this series, she finds not only the soul of the woman, but the soul of the shoe as well.
This photographic series has been documented both in individual frames shown in art galleries and seven coffee table books. Currently, two more of these books are in the works. Safe Passages, an organization which both works to prevent domestic violence and assists its victims, is a beneficiary of these photographic essays.
When one views the shots from A Day In My Shoes, one seems to absorb the warmth they exude; one also feels that the person being photographed has been revealed, even though they are not actually seen. This is all due to the skill of the photographer, who definitely has that "je ne sais quoi."
Amy Martin-Friedman had a father in the military, so she moved around the world as a child, immersing herself in different cultures. She later attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Maryland, studying international business, Spanish, and Japanese. She has been a highly regarded teacher, having taught English in Tokyo and, for many years, dance in the United States. Having trained in Jazz and Modern Dance, she has also become an expert in Latin Dance, teaching Salsa, Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Merengue, Tango, and Zumba, a fitness program driven by Latin rhythms. This diversity of interests and skills combined with an international perspective and ebullient personality enhance Ms. Friedman's abilities as a photo- essayist and enable her to capture the essence of her subjects.
She has also created the photographic series Pups and Pumps, which aids Animal Alliance, a group which finds homes for animals
Ms. Martin-Friedman knows firsthand the pain of abuse, so she has indeed walked more than a mile in the shoes of victims of domestic violence. She believes violence is a misguided tool of the weak to try to gain loyalty and love. She has worked hard to set herself free from this specter and feels an urgent need to carry on her work for support groups: A Day In My Shoes is a testament to both her photographic talent and commitment to that end.
She is on her way east for more photography and work against domestic violence. One of her stops will be Baltimore, where the Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Resource Center (SARC) is a beneficiary of her efforts. She will also be shooting in Philadelphia and the Cayman Islands.
My personal favorite shot of hers is of a mother and daughter walking together. Regarding her own favorites, Ms. Martin-Friedman says, "... I love this one of me and my boys and I always end my books with a shot of us... it really is about leaving a legacy to them knowing their mom did something good on this planet."