Photography, Exploring and Politics?

My blog is not meant to be political.

img_0024My photography is a journey and it affords me the opportunity to meet and converse with people from all walks of life. On the day this picture was taken I was in Atlanta for a scheduled shoot with a client at Piedmont Park in Atlanta’s Midtown. While waiting to meet with them I ran into man I engaged in a discussion with resulting in this picture. Here’s the story behind the picture.

It was a beautiful spring like day though the calendar stubbornly reminded us winter was still officially hanging around. Due to the beautiful weather I decided to head into the city early just in case I saw a scene I needed to capture.

With the warm weather signs of activity were all over the city. People were happily out and about. Whether it was enjoying an afternoon lunch, taking a break from work to fit in a run or families relaxing at the park, the city just felt alive. It was one of those days that put a smile on your face.

While I was walking around the city my client called and said they were running behind and needed to meet an hour later than scheduled. Life can be busy sometimes so I completely understood. Plus the silver lining was…I could do some more exploring with my camera! I decided to head over to Old Fourth Ward. This area was renovated with a new city market, business areas, living space and a revamped park.

Once I found a place to park my car I surveyed the area to see what photographic opportunities were available. In doing so I saw a man who had just pulled up to the park in his car. He had the tell tale look of wondering “Is this the right place? Where am I?”

I spoke and he smiled waiving hello back to me. I asked him if he was looking for something.He replied, “I’m supposed to meet some friends here. Is this Old Fourth Ward Park?”

Here’s the funny thing. You know how one additional word can throw you off?

Well I’ve heard it called Fourth Ward Park but not “Old” Fourth Ward Park even though it’s located in…The Old Fourth Ward. So for a second I was perplexed but quickly recovered. A chuckle worthy moment indeed. So I pulled out my phone and confirmed for him he was in the right spot. I bid him a good day and went off taking pictures of Ponce City Market and the surrounding areas.

Twenty minutes later I returned and this time his car was parked but he was still waiting. I checked to make sure he had been in contact with his friends and he said he had. Satisfied he was okay I was about to leave when I noticed him putting together a sign. Curiously I watched as he assembled his sign and I noticed it looked like a sign of protest in Arabic (please forgive me if I’m misidentifying the language on his sign).

I then decided to introduce myself while letting him know I was a photographer along with presenting my business card. I asked what his sign was about. He introduced himself as Mr. B (I will not post his full name) and explained he was at the park to meet with friends to protest the policies of the Trump presidency.

Once again, my blog is not a political blog. Mr. B went on to explain the goal of the protest was to denounce fascism and the recent policies that are, in his group’s opinion, promoting a fascist agenda. As we all know, no matter the country, discussing politics can sometimes be very uncivil. In talking with him though the conversation remained civil and was very insightful.

Mr. B. identified himself as a Muslim immigrant. He explained how travel and other policies, in his group’s opinion, compared historically to the views of other leaders and why as an immigrant who is now a citizen this frightened him so. He explained his hard work, his love for the United States and his fear these kind of policies wouldn’t just stop at immigrants but spread to other minorities as well. This led to us having a three pronged conversation about American History, the practice of slavery and the importance of civil rights.

It was like having an open classroom discussion or debate back in college. I gained an immediate respect for his historical knowledge and understanding of general policies in relation to everyday citizens. As a man I gained a respect for his ability to share his thoughts with conviction. I was unaware of his group but he took the time to further explain his group and the goals of the protest.

During this time my phone rang. My client was on the other end letting me know they would be arriving at Piedmont Park shortly. The conversation I was having with Mr. B had to come to an close. Before I left I asked if he would like a picture of him holding his sign. You may ask why I did this?

My thoughts were simply this. In the midst of his group’s protest who would think to document the moment? I thought it would just be good for him to have a picture of himself before the protest began. Mr. B happily obliged and the result was the picture above which I delivered to him personally.

As I stated before, my blog is not meant to be political in any way shape or form. This isn’t about whether I agreed, disagreed or was impartial to the viewpoints of his group. But my photography is a journey. In photography you may meet people from all walks of life and you mustn’t be afraid to speak with them. On this day I met Mr. B who had a story to share. In the short time of our interaction we had a great discussion.

*Feel free to leave a comment!

See more of my pictures on my website!

 

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