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Photographer’s new book celebrates being 60

Apr 3rd, 2014 | By | Category: Arts/Entertainment, Latest News, News

Picture of Jenny O'Connor holding her book 'Visible'AS the milestone of turning 60 loomed Wellington photographer Jenny O’Connor says she began to reflect on her past and discovered that the year she was born, 1952, had the highest number of registered births in New Zealand history.

She found that she like many other women, was part of a prosperous post-war baby-boom generation, and this lead her to wonder if other women in her generation were also reflecting on their lives.

She decided to interview and photograph 60 women at the age of 60, and the end result was her new book Visible, launched earlier this month.

She says Visible, the result of 3 years hard work, is a celebration of her generation; who they are, where they’ve come from and where they are standing right now.

“It’s really hard to express what doing a project like this means to me personally, and photographically. Every time I look at these photographs I just can’t believe that it’s actually happened,” she says.

230 guests attended the book launch in Wellington where Jenny O’Connor paid tribute to the amazing group of women who she says brought colour, elegance and culture to her book.

For most of them being photographed professionally was a new experience and she says they were so patient, open and trusting of her and her book.

Photo by Jenny O'Connor Photography as publsihed in Visible: 60 Woman at 60

Photo by Jenny O’Connor Photography

The women of the book were just as thankful to her for the opportunity to be part of the project.

Valerie Smith of Tawa says it was a fun chance to just be herself, to sparkle and have a bit of fun, “It’s a mosaic of who women at 60 are,” she says.

And Dede Downs (RIGHT) of Te Kuiti says she was looking forward to a nice photo of her that would last an eternity, “but there was no makeover or fancy hairdo, just me and my golf clubs, as it should be,“ she says.

Gail Robinson of Wellington, who also featured in the book wrote, “It still goes on, life’s lessons,  but we aren’t done yet, there’s heaps more to come.”

Wellington Regional Councillor and member of the Capital and Coast District Health Board, Dr Judith Aitken spoke at the launch saying the book brought tears to her eyes.

“The women in the book are outrageous, modestly heroic, funny, honest and maturely thoughtful. They are entirely without pretention or malice and with generous gifts of style and wit,” she says.

Many of the women in the book recognised 60 as a milestone but also said it was just another number.

“60 used to seem so old but we’re only in the teenage-hood of old age,” says the book’s author.

Jenny O’Connor says the photographs in the book were carefully chosen and agreed upon by each woman to best reflect their identity, and they wrote whatever they wanted about themselves.

She is hoping Visible will find a place on the bookshelves of people who love photography, or are moved by the stories and social commentary from a selection of women who lived very different lives from their mothers and grandmothers.

guests enjoying the book

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is is a Whitireia journalism student
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