On March 8, communities around the globe will celebrate International Women's Day by recognizing the value, power, and achievements of women across the world, while acknowledging the work that still needs to be done as we strive towards a fair and equitable society. This week on the G Adventures blog, we'll be looking at stories of women in travel, from game-changers to those who have been empowered by travel as a force for good. Here, G Adventures photographer Oana Dragan on her captivating portraits of the women she meets abroad.
G Adventures photographer Oana Dragan says she's the best version of herself when she travels. "You see the world in a way that you don’t see it when you’re at home," she says. "I think one thing travel has given me is trying to see the world with new eyes no matter where I am. And I love seeing how people’s lives are dictated by how they see the world. That’s what happens with my photography — I like seeing how people look at the world and how the world informs them."
Her affinity for photographing not only the places she goes, but the people as well, has led to a sort of accidental portrait series: Dragan will occasionally photograph and interview people she meets abroad, and post the results on her Instagram account. There are plenty of remarkable thing about these human portraits — from their intimacy to their composure, to the candour Oana's subjects take when speaking to her — but the more you look at them, the more it becomes apparent: they're almost all women.
"Maybe it’s because, for women, there’s not this culture of standing out, so ... I want to give them a voice," she says. "They have a lot to say, but they’re not really given that opportunity — or I don’t know if they’re given that opportunity. You see them light up. These women don’t have random travellers asking these questions."
Dragan says that she doesn't just photograph these women — she gets to know them. "I wanted to see the commonalities between all of these women, so, for a while, I was asking them all the same question," she says. "I definitely came to the conclusion that, no matter where I’ve been, all humans are the same. Women are loving, they care about their families, they want the best for their children, they’re often very selfless. I don’t know how their day to day lives are, but they’re always willing and able to open up."
Dragan often asks the women she photographs their thoughts on travel and tourism in their regions; many respond by telling her that travellers have empowered them with income and independence that they might not otherwise have (for more information on how G Adventures and the Planeterra Foundation help empower women through travel, click here).
Ultimately, Dragan says, whether she's photographing them or not, the people she meets on the road are what makes her travels special. "I ask myself the question: If I were to wake up and have everything taken away from me, what would I be doing?" she says. "And for me, it’s meeting people and telling stories. You travel for the landscapes, but the people are what you remember."
For more from Oana, follow her on Instagram at: instagram.com/oana_dragan.