The first time I met her was at press conference last year. She was working as a photographer for AFP. It was the first time for me to meet a female photojournalist in Jordan, as this career is usually dominated by men.

I ran into her maybe once or twice after that and she struck me as smart, very friendly and full of energy. We even talked about Jeff and I asked her if AFP was looking for freelance photographers. She was very helpful and gave me some good tips. I was shocked today to read that she passed away in Madrid at the age of 34.

Why her? She had so much to give! I think I am depressed.

‘A shooting star’

By Randa Habib

When she joined AFP-Amman in the summer of 2001, Leila Gorchev brought with her not just the great talent of an artistic photographer, but also the smile and the kindness of a great human being.

Her curiousity about everything around her, her sensitivity, that made her special, her talent behind a camera, which was her way of expressing the beauty in her and the serenity she was looking for — all these made us feel privileged to have her as a colleague.

I remember the time she accompanied me for an interview, of Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania. At the end of the interview, Leila asked King Abdullah for “just one more.” Gracefully, the King went back to the living room, and we started chatting again, so Leila could take “some more portraits.” No one could say no to her.

Through her eyes, Leila Gorchev made us all see parts of Jordan in a different light. Her pictures were so amazing, that we decided to use a Wadi Rum shot taken by Leila as a New Year greeting card. She managed to transform the vast desert sands into a sea of hope.

Last summer, Leila decided to follow her heart and her talent elsewhere.

She passed away in Madrid, the city that represented for her the dream and the future…

But the future was not to be for Leila. She was 34 years old.

Leila Gorchev was a shooting star.

The writer is the director of Agence France-Presse/Amman.