Starting Something New

I want to start a new project, not pertaining to wedding or couple/family photography. There's a photographer, Mary Beth Meehan, in Providence who mentored me for a while during my last year of high school as I sought to publish my own photography book. Her work is phenomenal, and she is well respected in her community. She's a published photographer and is a great advocate for justice, and bringing to light was is kept in darkness. Some of her work pertains to documenting the lives of immigrants like this one. Right now, she is in a current project that I think is pushing me to do similar work. She has a blog, Seen/Unseen

Seen/Unseen is a work-in-progress by photographer and writer Mary Beth Meehan, as she navigates the communities in her native New England, trying to meet her neighbors and describe what life is like for the people around her.
— Mary Beth Meehan

I have read some posts like this one, this one, and this one. Each one so genuine, raw, and deeply moving. As an artist, I think that I feel a bit more than the average person, just as I try to convey more emotion than the average person. Or maybe I'm just a really emotional person. Nevertheless, I want to document the lives I see everyday, but do not know. I want to meet and photograph the twins that I've seen since I was a child, the ones with the neon colored hair and the CD players and the booty shorts. People have called them the Tootsie twins, but I cannot say that is their real name. I want to document that old lady with the long skirt who always walks dragging her little metal carriage behind her, filled with things. She sometimes has a hat on, and always looks at the ground as she walks. I want to interview the men and women who linger around Kennedy Plaza; the familiar faces I always see on the bus, the souls who don't have a place to call home. 

I read an article by anthropologist Carlos Castaneda earlier this week that talked about overcoming our four natural enemies in order to become a "man of knowledge." (I take it that by "man" it is also implied that a person can also become a "woman of knowledge.") The article reads, 

A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning. A man who has, without rushing or without faltering, gone as far as he can in unraveling the secrets of power and knowledge.

It is later described that the four natural enemies are fear, clarity, power, and old age. First, one must know how to overcome his fear.

When a man wants to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning.

He slowly begins to learn–bit by bit at first, then in big chunks. And his thoughts soon clash. What he learns is never what he pictured, or imagined, and so he begins to be afraid. Learning is never what one expects.

That is my position right now. I am stuck between what I know and am comfortable with, and what could be. There's a fear of the unknown; the fear of picking up my camera and taking a walk downtown. 

Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield.

So a person can either wither in their fear, or conquer it, thus finding a state of clarity where he or she will no longer be afraid to try new things, to learn, to venture into unknown soil, to dance to a different rhythm. 

In the end, " becomes a man of knowledge for a very brief instant..." Right now, I am not too concerned about becoming a "man of knowledge" (maybe because these four enemies are something that I will try to fight naturally), but I know that I will  not wither in my fear. I will continue to fight my fears of learning new things, of working in new environments and know that being uncomfortable is always part of trying something new. 

Eli DeFariaComment