Editor’s Note: Each week we’ll be featuring members of the Photofocus community.  Part of our New Year’s resolution is to focus on new and emerging talent.  As such, Melissa Niu will personally select images from our readers and feature them here on Photofocus.


“She Rests” is the concluding image in “The Poetry of Dreams” series. The series is a set of self portraits that look at the universal archetypal character of the “any woman”.  This particular image was made on a icy cold day, just after the sun had gone down on an abandonded dirt road behind my family’s home near Wrightwood, CA.  I used all natural light to create an alluring surreal state.  The dress is an original from the 1940’s and the suitcase is from the late 1800’s. I prefer to use vintage props to add a sence of a by-gone era.  I also choose to use the confines of the square to draw the viewer in to an alternate space in time.  My goal is to create a link between the viewer’s subconscious and the image.  I hope that the viewer will forget that they are looking at a photograph and instead get lost in their interpretation.

I am fascinated with the inner being, the hidden energy that propels us through life.  In each of my self portraits I explore the universal archetypal characters of the “any woman”.  I have always been drawn to the darker side of fairytales and folklore.  It is the twisted fates of the damsel in distress or the patriarch that I attempt to portray in my photographic work. I delve into magical realism; where my imagination creates alternate worlds. My images are a walk into a surreal dreamland where anything can occur.  I use vintage wardrobe and objects thus encapsulating the spirit of a bygone era.  My images take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary creating a thought provoking story as unique as the individual piece.  My subject mater is ridden with symbols, myths and legends, each with it’s own primordial force. I seek to use these forces to represent my deepest thoughts and dreams. I use the confines of a square to draw the viewer in to an alternate space in time.  My goal is to create a link between the viewer’s subconscious and each image.  I hope that the viewer will forget that they are looking at a photograph and instead get lost in their interpretation.


— Crystal Dickerson-Hancock


To see more of Crystal’s work, go to and follow her on Facebook.

If you would like your photo featured, read this article.

We’re excited to feature your work to the Photofocus audience!


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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I am so excited and honored to have my image “She Rests” chosen as the “Featured Photo” THANK YOU SO MUCH PHOTOFOCUS and Melissa Niu!!! You all truly are the BEST!!!

  2. Such a poignant image. It can have so many meanings. For me I think of a night when I was hiding from my abuser. The big problem was I was afraid of snakes and spiders so I hid in the middle of the road thinking I would see him coming and be able to hide in the bushes

  3. Excellent choice PhotoFocus, and excellent image Crystal.
    I can relate to that comment Kim, such a powerful emotional response this image has. Glad you were safe.

  4. Such a captive photo! It truly inspires deep thought. love it aunt crystal

  5. Very powerful emotional picture, breath taking and above anything I have ever seen! Lovely art, thank you for sharing with us!


  6. This image inspires though into being lost and uncertain of where life or the road will take you. The only thing that is certain are those things that one holds most dear, I am assuming the suitcase symbolizes the emotional baggage or tangible and intangible items she carries with her. Proud of you Mom, great picture

  7. Crystal you are just an amazing photographer. I have always loved your images since we first met. You inspire me.Your full series is just beautiful. Congrats girl!

  8. Beautiful image! Your work is so moving and thought provoking… I love that I can relate to this image. Yet I’m left with just enough intrigue & questions that give me reason to pause & explore. This entire series is amazing. I look forward to seeing more of your work. I know that you are definitely an emerging talent that we will surely see in the limelight! Keep up the great work & creativity!


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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.


Featured Photo, Fine Art, Portrait, Your Focus