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Ariel Zambelich June 25, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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From the project “I’ll Be A Beautiful Girl,” USA 2009

Ariel Zambelich (b. 1985, USA) is a freelance photojournalist based in Northern California. A Los Angeles native, she graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Journalism. She worked for two years as a staff photographer at a mid-sized newspaper in Stockton, CA, before deciding to pursue her freelance career. Ariel attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2008 where she received an award from Life Magazine, and was nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2009. Her clients include the Wall Street Journal and The FADER, and she co-directs the Exposure Gallery in San Francisco, which is dedicated to documentary photography.”

About the Photograph:

“In this photograph, Elena shaves in preparation for Genital Reassignment surgery as her (now ex) wife Zing relaxes in their hotel room in Trinidad, Colorado. The couple traveled halfway across the country for the surgery. Elena viewed the trip as coming full circle; she was born in Denver, but the family that put her up for adoption as a child still lives in Trinidad. I was particularly drawn to Elena’s story because it was not only a visually remarkable transition, but it was also a complicated emotional change. In the course of a year, she shed her previous life as Rick Nafzinger, the tie-dye wearing father of five grown children, seminary graduate, Hindu priest and husband, to become Elena Jane Kelly, a name chosen for herself, and a personality she is still refining. She struggles to find her own identity in a sea of stereotypical femininity and a lifetime of male perspective. At 53 years old, she realizes she is reliving puberty in a way most take for granted. More than walking in high heels and choosing a hair color, the struggle for Elena lies in forging a new place for herself in her own life.”

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