Worldwide travels inspire Welsh photographer

Her very humble upbringing in Cardiff, Wales, could have darkened her spirits or tempered her smile. But yielding to poor odds never occurred to Lyca (pronounced Lisa) Faulkner, who is a professional photographer, marketer and staunch supporter of children all over the world.

Through her love of photography, she added a unique dimension to her previous work in marketing. As a branding consultant for a children's charity, Plan International, she felt that the only way to provide the proper insight was to travel around the world and photograph children in their natural state.

"I tried to capture children in photos to try to tell their story," she says. "The power of an image can be huge."

Faulkner, who moved here three years ago with her husband and daughter, has been around the world and back. Many of her trips were to developing nations where she photographically studied the effect of industrialization.

Through all this, she remembers her roots, and in fact self-published two photographic tributes of her native Wales. One of them, "Wales in Our Own Image," depicts what was previously a thriving coal mining town in the South Wales valleys - now poverty-ravaged and bleak.

Published in November 2000, Faulkner said she was trying to "promote the area and raise the spirits of the people." Her effort, however, did not accomplish its goals, as she said the "area is blighted with social problems."

So here she is, ironically, surrounded by wealth and privilege, photographing children and families, most of whom have never known pangs of hunger.

Faulkner has always loved photographing children, dating back to when she was 16 and photographing some young schoolmates who had had babies.

Now that she is a mother, the meaning of her work has deepened (her daughter is 5, and featured prominently on Faulkner's Web site.) "Once you become a mother, you get a different perspective," she says. "Children are great fun - I try not to do traditional portraits."

Indeed. Thanks to a local Russian builder, Faulkner's downstairs playroom has been transformed into an all-white space to enable children and families to run and jump and laugh. She also encourages people to be photographed with their pets, especially those who are agi ng. "The relationship between the dogs and the kids - and some adults - is really lovely."

Faulkner possesses a unique balance of humility and alacrity.

"Everything in my life let me to this point," she says. "It's lovely to give people things they value, especially in five or 10 years' time. Everything moves so quickly .... Family and friends - that's the most important thing."

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