When I think about photographs that reflect the pleasure of living, images of relaxed people in contact with nature and their loved ones come to my mind. I also think about meaningful moments: a birth, a wedding, preparations for a ‘sweet-fifteen’ dance like the one in this photograph, when a girl is ‘introduced to society’ on her fifteenth birthday. The pleasure is not always felt at the time, often with anticipation beforehand and afterwards, when someone looks at the photographs in an old family album.
Here, in one of the poorer areas of Lima, Peru, the sweet-fifteen dance involves all the family, friends and neighbours. A godfather has given the cake and a godmother has rented the dress. An uncle painted the house and a neighbour decorated the room. The father has just finished building the second floor of the house, with stairs that don’t yet lead anywhere. There is no money, but the celebration has to be unforgettable all the same. The day after there may not be enough money for food – but that does not matter.