Zaina, from Eritrea. Has a rose tattoo on her neck.
I wanted to photograph her as soon as I saw her. She was sitting by herself a few tables away from me in the crowded cafe, eating and talking on the phone. I pointed at my camera, mouthed “can I take your picture?” and she waved her hand around to say “later”. 5 minutes later, she hung up and invited me to have lunch together at her table.
Zaina told me she lives in London and Milan and feels very comfortable in front of the camera. She showed me photos of herself – in a rose garden in Milan; wearing pink sweatpants around London; on a beach, clutching a brightly coloured drink and sweating in the sun. Her photos were bursting with colour, wealth and eccentricity, yet she looked a little sad in nearly all of them. I felt lucky to have caught her under less guarded and glamorous circumstances and wondered at the source of that imagined sadness, or softness.