lifestyle

Women in sport just got a whole lot more beautiful.

Maya
Maya Sugiharto

 

Maya Sugiharto is amazing.

She’s an Indonesian born-and-raised woman who has recently launched a photography project called ‘Wonder Women’,  featuring photographs of 11 female athletes from Melbourne.

We loved the images when we saw them. They’re such a refreshing and empowering look at women who excel in fields traditionally dominated by men.

The sportswomen might not fit the norm. They might not be at all well-known. But the photos show that all of them are amazing in their own way. And in this project, they are all – finally – given a voice. And some recognition.

This is Maya’s story.

By MAYA SUGIHARTO

I grew up in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I moved to Melbourne ten years ago. And the entire time, I have always remembered my father’s words to me as a child.

“When there is a will, there is a way!” he would say, or “If they can do it, so can you, because we’re all equal!”, or “Bend with the breeze and see where the wind blows!” as I can be quite stubborn at times.

As corny as these words may sound, I think I’m one of the lucky ones – growing up in a loving family with a strong belief system that taught me to be independent and that I can do anything that I wanted to do.

The Wonder Women Photography Project is a self-funded, 11-month long photography project, which started in January 2013 and was launched online recently on 13/11/13 at 11am.

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Photographer: Maya Sugiharto, Agent Morphe Design
www.mayasugiharto.com.au
© Copyright Maya Sugiharto 2013

It started off as a personal project of mine, where I wanted to build a stronger photography portfolio and take my skill as a photographer to the next level by working on something I was very passionate about. I have always loved sports and editorial-style photography and I wanted to do a project that would empower girls and women. So that’s how Wonder Women was born.

wonder women project
Maya and Aviva

It was created from a simple idea and has now evolved into something bigger than myself, with a life of its own!

The most common questions people have asked me are: “how did you find the 11 female athletes?” and “how did you choose the sports”?

I did A LOT of research to find them. I didn’t know any of the 11 women before this project. A few we met at public and private events, a couple were recommendations from one of the athletes, and the rest I found mostly through my extensive online research, by emailing, calling and messaging them via social media and reading their blogs and watching their YouTube channels (for those who have one), or contacting some male athletes whom I also found from my online research, and asked if they could direct me to a few female athletes in their sports that fit the criteria that I am looking for.

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The female athletes are not so easy to find, especially in the sports that I chose, because unfortunately, women still don’t receive a lot of media attention and recognition. So the project to date has clocked-up over 550 hours in total (researching, organising, location scouting, photo shoots, then the re-shoots, and post-processing), and it has been an amazing journey.

I also didn’t know much about their chosen sports either, and this part was intentional for two reasons:

1) I wanted to come into their respective environment ‘wide-eyed’ so to speak, to capture them differently;

2) I wanted to photograph and highlight the female athletes behind such non-mainstream and/or male-dominated sports, and shine the light on them because of their passion and achievements; not so much in medals per say, but in what they do as athletes and people, to inspire others to follow their own dreams. So that’s how I chose the 11 sports.

Through a series of 6-9 photographs of each woman, and a micro-story from personal interviews taken, the project aims to inspire all women and girls on a global scale to believe in themselves and follow their passion. The photographs aim to connect with women and girls on a deeper level, to show the inner strength and determination, the shine, that we all possess.

Women are too often told that they can’t do something, or to stop dreaming. We wanted to show girls and women everywhere that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Wonder Women project
The Wonder Women project.
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Growing up, I’ve always loved photography, but I never had the money to buy the equipment, nor the opportunity and the time to pursue it. Until only recently, my partner (Aviva Minc) and I decided to start our own creative business, Agent Morphe Design about 3.5 years ago. On a shoestring budget, we threw aside established corporate roles and ‘jumped off’ that cliff to follow our own dreams. What we do in the business and the projects we work on (such as the Wonder Women Photography Project) very much reflect who we are as people, our passion, our values, beliefs and the messages that we are trying to share.

I used to think being a ‘photographer‘ was such as a cool job, being able to travel to different places, working in creative settings, meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life… and now, I don’t have to think about it anymore, I’m living it.

If I can offer some advice to anyone who wanted to start something in their lives to better themselves, whether it would be in sport, photography, journalism, or anything at all… the lesson that I took away from the Wonder Women Photography Project is to always believe in yourself, keep one eye on the goal, and always follow your passion, and you will get there eventually. It has changed our lives forever.

You can follow Maya’s work on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

This project is featured on Maya’s website. You can see more of the photos from this project here.

And in other sports news from the week:

– Thousands of touch footy players are gearing up for the NSW State Cup this weekend. The huge tournament, held in Port Macquarie, will involve 210 teams (some coming from as far as Fiji), with 700 games and 270 officials. You can read our post about touch footy here if you need convincing about how awesome it is.

– Great news for the Hockeyroos – they’re are through to the semi-final of the World League after a dramatic shoot-out victory over Germany, the European champions. The game took place in Argentina.

– The Australian Gliders, our national wheelchair basketball team, won the 2013 IWBF Asia-Oceania Zone Championships in Thailand this week. They’re now heading to the 2014 IWBF World Championships.

– The draw for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2014 is out – and our soccer team, the Matildas, will be versing world champions Japan, host nation Vietnam and Jordan. They’ll be looking to retain the crown they won in 2010 (which is, to date, the only Asian title won by a male or female Australian team at any level). The Asian Cup will be starting in May.

Have you seen anything in sporting news you want to share? Tell us here…

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