She Will Not Only Climb Mountains, She Will Move Them Too


South African photographer Katya Abedian is 19-years-old, but her images show an empathy that belies her age. Alongside photography, she’s also an independent filmmaker. Her debut short, "Skin Diver" celebrates female friendship, difference and universal spirituality. Abedian’s latest photo series takes us on a journey through India, sharing snapshots of the women she met, and the impact they had on her.

“She has been feeling it for awhile now - that sense of awakening. There is a gentle rage simmering inside her, and it is getting stronger by the day. She will hold it close to her - she will nurture it and let it grow. She won't let anyone take it away from her. It is her rocket fuel and finally, she is going places. She can feel it down to her very core - this is her time. She will not only climb mountains - she will move them too.”

- Her Time, Lang Leav

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Just after sunrise, in a small village hidden within the mountains of Jaipur, women gather to collect water for the day’s work. There is not much talking between them and they are surprised to see someone taking so much interest in their routine.

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The colours are so rich here. The warmth of the turmeric-mustard yellows catch your eye as you run through the streets. The faded pastel pinks and bubblegum-blue buildings. The sea greens that shimmer in the winter sunshine once the monsoon rains clear the dust from faces. It keeps your insides inspired.

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A woman with a nurturing spirit, who I passed by daily on my way to work. One of the most distinctive aspects of Indian culture is the hospitality. Everywhere you go, no matter who you are or where you come from, you will be offered food and invited inside by the families whose homes you pass by or visit. Some families seemed to be struggling to get by themselves. I was struck by their genuine desire to share with me whatever morsel they could find, even if it meant they would go hungry that night. I had never experienced kindness and warmth to this degree, even amongst my Iranian family members, whose hospitality had set the bar so high.

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Water and love: the two most powerful things in the universe. Both malleable, able to transform and give life to the lifeless, meaning to the meaningless.

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When young girls and boys grow up without much parental presence, they stick together and learn the ways of the world through hardship. It was powerful to witness these girls, who, at such a tender age, learned how to make a living by doing little jobs. But, their eyes told a softer story: their vulnerability and need to be cared for was still so tangible.

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It sometimes feels to me that women grow sunlight in their hearts; the light pours out of them like rivers of honey.


Her name was Ekta, meaning ‘unity’ in Hindi. She had a glowing presence that could be felt from a distance. I took her portrait after we shared a few moments of silence –a mutual acknowledgement. It was a particularly warm day in Agra and you could feel the heat rising from the ground, encouraging everyone to doze off into an afternoon nap. It was quiet around the village streets.  All you could hear were the birds singing and the chains of bicycles whizzing by.


Capturing light while moving in the opposite direction, at different velocities, proved to be an interesting challenge. Seeing many family members piled onto one moving vehicle is normal in India, but this particular family had a serene beauty about them that really moved me. 


There is nothing that can replace the love between sisters. The care and thoughtfulness they showed to one another was truly humbling.


This particular photograph means a lot to me, because it was taken when I felt most like a fly-on-the-wall. Street cricket is a common occurrence in the side-streets of small Indian cities. I enjoyed being an observer, and there were usually a few children who became highly distracted by my curious presence – sometimes to the extent that they would stop playing altogether. But on this particular day, I felt especially invisible. Everyone carried on playing, focused on their role. And like a dream, this woman with the deep ruby-red head scarf walked straight through the game, looked right at me and disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. My hands worked for me, capturing the moment faster than my brain could process it. And as it turns out, I wasn't the only observer.

Introductory words by Isabel Webb

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Katya Abedian