See the new lyric video of “Among The Living,” by Markéta Irglová and featuring photographs by me, below.
I heard these words, with tears in my eyes, as Markéta was standing on stage at the Kodak Theater, with her newly won Best Song Oscar in 2008. The song was the beautiful “Falling Slowly,” the main theme of the movie “Once,” starring Markéta and her costar Glen Hansard. At that time, I was living in New York City and starting to take my first steps into photography — hoping to pave my own path in a city that wasn’t always easy to survive in. My husband Anton and I were big fans of the movie and had seen Markéta and Glen play live at a small venue as the band they formed, called The Swell Season. Their voices together were like a dream, and they had quickly become my favorite musicians.
Two years later, I had become one of the recognized world pioneers of the booming movement of “iPhoneography,” and was enjoying some pretty cool opportunities. One afternoon — I don’t remember how — I stumbled upon that beautiful Oscar speech of Marketa’s, that continued to move me. On impulse, I reached out to her on Twitter, thanking her for the inspiration, and telling her that as a photographer one of MY dreams would be to one day work with her. As I hit “send,” I felt a trepidation but thought she may not even see it and that would be it. So imagine my surprise when two weeks later I opened Twitter to find this tweet:
I was elated. Markéta was also spending a year in NYC at the time and preparing her first solo album while The Swell Season had taken a break.
She did several concerts in a very intimate setting at Zora’s cafe in Brooklyn, and it was there that we finally got to properly meet for the first time. When we said goodbye and I handed her my business card, she loved the photo in it and I told her I was part of a group photo show in Soho a few weeks later. She promised to stop by, and to my surprise, she followed through. To this day I recall the absolute joy I felt to be standing in a gallery space talking photography with someone whose voice and own creative art was moving me like very few people could.
One Sunday in the New York autumn, Anton and I found ourselves having lunch at Markéta’s and spending the afternoon walking by the Hudson River with me taking pictures of her. One of those images ended up in the booklet of her album “Anar,” and several others used for promotional events for a while. We did a second shoot with her and the band for the album, running around the city and having fun. I treasure those moments so much as some of the highlights of my decade in New York.
So all these years later, when Markéta sought me out about collaborating in her newest work, a song that was meant to be a journey of healing and grief for the souls lost in this infamous year — a tribute to them and those who mourn them and the survivors of the pandemic — I jumped at the opportunity with a full heart. Not only because I am one of those survivors who was hit hard by the virus, and was hospitalized, but because it became the perfect expression for me to honor the victims with my work.
For the past 3 weeks, we have shared a piece of the lyrics of the new song “Among the Living,” next to an artistic photo taken by me that we felt was expressing the emotion of the words. Today, as the song launches, you can also see all those images (and a few more) in the Lyrics Video we have prepared with care and love. 13 minutes and 41 seconds that continually bring me to tears even after multiple watches. I hope the song and images will touch your hearts and help those in mourning remember their loved ones.
I want to thank Markéta Irglová and her husband and producer Mio, the Siggi String Quartet and the always impressive singer Aida Shahghasemi for the magic they have created in this song. It is an honor and a pleasure to be part of something this inspiring with my work. And I have felt throughout the process as if some of those images (some new, others taken years ago), had somehow waited patiently and arrived from all the places I took them (New York, San Francisco, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Lisbon and Marrakech) for the chance to find their true place to be. This song.
My dreams were indeed very far out, my dear Markéta Irglova. But you continue to make them come true. So I’ll continue to never give up. Thank you with my heart.