Heart of a Rockabilly is a Rose
I have been waiting with excitement to upload this post as it is probably one of my favorite street portraits. This photo appeals to me because I feel it could have been taken a a different time in history. The more I look at his picture I see a photo that could have been taken in the era of cowboys and Indians, he has the air of outlaw with a strong hint the antihero character. I tend to imaging a lone gunslinger that comes across an injustice which compels him to help. Then you have his tattoo, this giant rose with horses off to the side. It is as if his neck has become part of his clothing pulled up tight to the edge of his jaw line, framing his face perfectly. The rose itself is delicate but has a few barbs and if you are to handle it you should be careful as it is not a defenseless flower. But ultimately for me this picture is in his eyes, they have an intensity that hides wisdom as I was about to find out.
I like to think that I am an open minded person that doesn’t prejudge people, but really who am I kidding. Like EVERYONE I am influenced by how people look. There is a saying that we form an opinion of someone before they even speak. I did with Ben. In saying that I personally think it is better to admit this common trait and allow yourself to be persuaded to think differently by the experience of properly meeting someone. I like to think this project helps me to be more flexible in my own thoughts and beliefs and that I allow the “reflex” opinions I form of people to be changed through further and deeper interactions with them.
So allow me to introduce you to Ben, who was sitting with Cal from RAD. Ben is youth worker in Newcastle working for Allambi Youth Services. He sees himself making a career out of the work he does and feels it is a job that keeps him grounded. In his work there is always someone worse off than him. He would like to take what he is learning and eventually use his knowledge to help him become a good manager, but he is in no rush for this, for now his passion is helping the young people he works with. Ben looks at his work and feels rewarded each day, his days really do make the difference so many people crave.
I asked Ben what he thought of Newcastle and he said “there is no such thing as a shit place to live, its your choice on where you go and how you see the place”. This is one of those really profound statements and you can see how this guy would really connect with young people and give them something to think about. I really like the notion of “your choice”. Where you live is your choice, how you see that place is your choice and what you do to make it better or worse for yourself is your choice. I think Ben sees the world through choices and in that there is a sense of personal empowerment, he isn’t a victim of circumstance.
Ben has traveled a lot and lived in a number of different areas and he loves Newcastle after being here for about three years. It is a place that is big enough that gives you plenty of choices to do different things but not so big that you loose yourself in it. It is a place where the pace is chilled.
I got this feeling that Ben was wiser than his probable age. He spoke in a quite tone with a sense of confidence and calmness. His words seemed to be thoughtful, as not to rush what he was thinking or just saying the first thing that popped into his head. I got the feeling that his view on Newcastle and on people were similar, that he has deep beliefs that he sees the world through.
My chat with Ben was a highlight for this project and I say thank you Ben for sharing more than just your Newcastle.