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[Gallery Show] NeON Photography and ABC No Rio

On July30, 2022, I participated in a panel discussion. 

The program breakdown is a little confusing so let me try to explain it clearly. I was one of five panelists for the event. We were there to represent the NeON Photography program. The discussion was part of a larger series of program called Summer School. Summer School was produced by an organization called ABC No Rio. ABC No Rio, lacking its own facilities at the moment, is utilizing the P.S. 122 Gallery space to host its Summer School programming, including the July 30th panel event.

Make sense? I hope so! Anyway...

I was a little anxious about being a panel participant. I always am when it comes to speaking in public. I was much calmer with this than with other engagements, however. Mainly because it was about photography. I love talking about photography! And I go back a ways with NeON Photography group (since 2019). I've known the program, as well as a number of people involved with it, for a while now. I'm comfortable around them.

The panel participants were:

Kirk Lawrence (he/him; 2nd person from the right)

Nathalie Marc (they/them; 3rd person from the left)

Patrice Payne (she/her; 1st person from the right)

Diamond Peterson (she/her; 2nd person from the left)

and me (he/him; 3rd person from the right)

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The panel discussion was moderated by Andre Whitehead (he/him; 1st person on the left). He's an alumni of NeON Photography from back in 2018. He currently serves as an instructor in the program. It's in the latter role that I know Andre. He was my instructor when I participated back in 2019. This made it easier to say yes to participating in the panel discussion.

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Speaking of which: It was a good discussion! We talked about a number of things, such as:

Describing our experience as participants of the NeON Photography group.

Why we chose the photo that was on display for the Summer School event.

What role photography plays in activism.

How photography can be used as a tool for community organizing.

There were a lot of good questions asked. I'm kicking myself for not remembering all the great responses from my fellow panelists! 

There were some common responses. For one, being Black photographers shaped our way of taking photos. Many of us wanted to present marginalized folks in a way that went beyond stereotypes. We wanted to tell our respective truths, not just as photographers but in relation to how we worked with the subjects in our images.

Another sentiment shared: Photography, especially as alumni of the NeON Photography group, changed our lives. Another observation: I create most of my photography work in isolation. Aside from the occasional meet-up, I work alone. Being a part of the NeON Photography/ABC No Rio event reminded me that I'm also part of a community. A community can lift your spirits. It also motivates you to be your best.

Having a gallery show is a special treat. I haven't gotten tired of it yet. Hopefully it won't be the last one I do.

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