Significant Shoes is a collection of 60 photographs by Howard Guest from an ongoing series of portraits of women with their shoes. Each portrait is accompanied by an explanation as to why the shoes are important. It’s a compelling mix of shoes, stories and people and it all started with the question. “So what is it with women and shoes?”
This was to a dear friend who was recovering from cancer. It was a lazy Sunday morning, we had just finished breakfast and I looked down and complimented her on a particularly elegant pair of shoes that she was wearing. Her answer launched the project.
“Men rarely understand women and their shoes. You don’t have to own hundreds of pairs. You wear some because they make you feel good, some because they’re lovely or because they’re comfortable or practical and some because they’re significant and they’re associated with memories or events.”
So which shoes are significant?
The portraits and stories show that it can be any pair of shoes, from high heels to slippers, wellies to pumps, boots, sandals, trainers or mukluks. Anything. It is the stories about them that make them significant and every one is different and every one is personal. This book includes stories that are: bizarre, risqué, tongue in cheek or outrageous. Often a pair of shoes reminds us of happier times, important days; days of wonder or extreme sadness. What is clear from these stories is that as far as women and their shoes are concerned, shoes are not just things to put your feet in!
Howard Guest is a photographer based in the UK. His work divides between portraiture and art photography. In 2008 the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge hosted a series of portraits titled “On the Shoulders of Giants.” These were environmental portraits shot throughout the University of Cambridge and the Colleges as part of the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the University’s foundation. This was the first photographic exhibition ever hosted by the Fitzwilliam.