I had the Monday morning blues, especially following the need to return to work following a lovely Thanksgiving holiday, so I decided to take some time to see a photography exhibition that I had read about: Daphne — The Subtle Power of a Woman’s Eye at the embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C. Of course, you must be wondering what this has to do with running a small press, but sometimes I simply need a way to recharge, especially when one works alone as much as I do here in my basement studio. It’s that special treat, that break from the ordinary that helps one get going again.

Inside the ornate embassy, a collection of about 50 photos by Daphne Dougall Hogg de Zileri — who remained largely unknown in her lifetime outside of the artistic elite of Peru — were hung tastefully in black frames with almost stucco like mattes, no glass separating the viewer from the black and white prints. She started by taking photos of her own children — and, indeed, there are several on view here — and taught herself from studying photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and other greats.

You can get a good sense of her work from this YouTube video — Soliloquios de Daphne Dougall de Zileri. A short intro in Spanish is followed by a beautiful slideshow of many of her best photos. Clearly, she has an eye for composition and contrast — of her daughter set against the undulating, rippling sands of the desert; of a child seemingly holding the sun in tiny hands; of a lone soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Often, she photographed the ordinary and made it seem eternal.

As Antonio Cisneros, a poet, said about her work, “Eyes see things as ordinary. It is the heart that lifts them to the extraordinary.” Or Cesar Hildebrandt, a leading journalist in Peru, who said,  “An artist does not need a massacre to move us.”

Indeed, she does not. In Daphne’s photos of everyday Peru and elsewhere around the world, there is a quiet magic and intensity that seems to match her own personality. One particularly striking photo shows a pregnant woman, highlighting her swollen belly, the eyes and top of the head of the pregnant mother cut off by the frame of the picture so that both mother and child remain locked in mystery.

In fact, Zileri often photographs people whose faces are either hidden by a newspaper or cut off in the frame of the image, revealing the surface patterns of light and dark while creating a sense of mystery about them. She never sought the limelight and died last month of asthma complications at the age of 75. As Hildebrandt said, “She loved the light as much as the shadows.”

The show is on view through Wednesday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free, at the Embassy of Peru. 1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.