Vancouver photographer’s portraits feature 40 women over 40, celebrating life and beauty

When Denise Lin turned 40 during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she didn’t know what to expect from the next decade of her life.

The Vancouver-based photographer wanted to try something new and adapt to the circumstances when she came across a ’40 by 40′ campaign in an online photography group, highlighting women over 40.

Lin said she fell in love with the idea and after some research was inspired to create her own version.

Earlier this month, the portraits and stories of 40 women were featured in Forty Over 40, a magazine curated by Lin that was unveiled at the Bravehearts Gala fundraising event supporting the BC Women’s Health Foundation. , at Hycroft Manor in Vancouver on December 8.

Participants of the 40 Over 40 campaign are pictured with Denise Lin at the Bravehearts gala in December 2022. (Denise Lin Photography)

« It’s the most uplifting experience we’ve ever had, » Lin told CBC. The first edition host Stephen Quinn, referring to herself and the women featured in the campaign.

« I wanted to capture the beauty and strength that these women already have. We all have our inner lives that need to be seen and felt. I’m just here to support that. »

After a year and a half of planning, customizing the project to make it meaningful and positive for participants, Lin announced the campaign through a social media call in April this year and hired hairstylists and makeup artists. for filming.

The former graphic designer photographed and interviewed the women creating the magazine.

She said she partnered with the foundation to support women across the province who have experienced violence.

The project inspired “greater confidence”

Kathryn Murray-Hoenig of Vancouver and Esther Chou of North Vancouver are two of the 40 women featured.

For Murray-Hoenig, a mother of two and high school science teacher for 22 years, the shoot was an opportunity « to see herself in a different light », she said, after years of struggling with the endometriosis that resulted in a hysterectomy more than a year ago.

Endometriosis occurs when tissues similar to the lining of the uterus abnormally implant outside of it to form lesions, cysts, nodules and other growths, describes the Endometriosis Network Canada.

« I gained 25 pounds post-op and my body didn’t feel like mine anymore, » Murray-Hoenig said. « I was somewhat adrift in the changes to my identity with the surgery. »

She said the shoot inspired « greater confidence in myself and my appearance, and a greater value of who and what I am and what I give in the different areas of my life ».

A photo of Kathryn Murray-Hoeing posing for the camera in a pink dress.
Participant Kathryn Murray-Hoeing said filming was an opportunity for personal growth and helped her through changes in her life. (Denise Lin Photography)

After undergoing surgery at Women’s Hospital, Murray-Hoenig said the fundraising event meant more.

She said she hopes the campaign will challenge seemingly prevalent media stereotypes that beauty is only for the young and thin.

« There is still a lot of real beauty as we get older, and sometimes a greater depth of beauty instead of just being pretty. »

« It was so liberating »

Chou, who turned 40 in July, says the campaign has been an empowering, moving and inspiring journey.

It was also a time of closure: Chou spent much of the year at BC Children’s Hospital with her son.

« It’s more of an emotional journey because BC Woman’s and BC Children’s work so closely with each other and they’re side by side and two of my kids were born there too, » she said. .

« It meant a lot to me. »

A photo of Esther Chou posing for the camera in a peach dress.
Esther Chou, 40, said working on the project with Denise Lin was an empowering, moving and inspiring journey. (Denise Lin Photography)

As a mother of three, Chou said Lin empathizes with her as she tries to find time for herself, juggling her personal and professional roles.

She said she was also able to connect and resonate with women with similar stories.

« Because I felt like something was missing, it was so freeing after I made my decision, » she said. « I was like, ‘This is it, I’ll do it.’

« And I have no regrets. »

The first edition6:37The campaign photographed 40 women over 40 celebrating life and beauty

We talk to Denise Lin, a Vancouver photographer whose recent photo campaign helped women feel confident and celebrate their lives.

Lin said she would do another round of « 40 on 40 » in 2023 for the same cause, in addition to a makeover project for members of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center (DEWC).

She said she hoped to provide a positive experience for the women through filming, before they did a fashion show to raise money for the center.


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