Kenya Meon is a young creative based in Atlanta, Georgia.
She embarks on a journey of visual communication, using her eyes to capture what you could say, 'really matters'. We all are obsessed with capturing our daily morning coffee, acai bowls or even that 'outfit of the day' but looking at and through the lens of Meon's camera, you begin to notice everyday activities. That glimmer of light that slips through your blinds every morning, or your daily walk toward the underground/subway, her work shines a certain kind of light on people and things being ignored or taken for granted, creating a narrative that can vary, depending on how one chooses to interpret her images.
Besides being a photojournalist, she is also quite a bit of a writer herself, using words to make an impact on your mind and heart. Sometimes an image is not enough, but with words, we have over a million words to use and manipulate to our advantage. Below, Meon uses her words to paint a picture of the daily confrontation of denial and lack- we all seem to think we are not beautiful at some point in our lives but here, she reminds you that you are;
"You are beautiful and graceful in every way
Why does your face sulk in the dawn of May?
You should be flourishing
Moisture filled and light driven
That vibrancy in your eyes
Bless it to your mind
Make your self whole again
Who is Kenya Meon?
Kenya Meon is a 25 year old visionary from a small town with a severe case of wanderlust. Aside from that of course, I am a photographer, writer, and creative director.
Being a Georgia Peach (Atlanta), what are your thoughts on this city? Has it contributed to your creative journey?
Although I haven't been in Atlanta my entire life, (I’m originally from a small town about two hours from Atlanta), I do find myself referring to it as home. It’s definitely a city full of diversity and that’s one of the things that makes it so dear to me. It still has its Southern roots, but with so much influence coming in with those relocating from other cities its easy for Atlanta to maintain its charm.
Atlanta will always be a big part of my creative journey. Its my starting point and I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many amazing artists and creatives. Back in my hometown it was difficult for me to find myself both as a human being and as an artist. Nobody was on the creative wave and people rarely chose to be entrepreneurs. Often times that left me feeling outcasted. However, in Atlanta there are so many people in the same industry you get a sense of community and fulfillment for whatever it is that you do creatively.
What are your thoughts on categorization/labels in the creative industry? What category do you think you’re under?
I’ve always been a little peeved about categories and labels especially in the arts since its so subjective. I do think to that labels help those not so inclined in the arts to understand what it is that we do. Even though there are hundreds of photographers, writers, designers, etc. they are all individually special and sometimes that uniqueness could in fact fall into subsets. So I get it lol, but I’m not fond of being placed into one particular category. I find that putting a label on yourself could limit you from trying new things and maybe even hinder your progress in the long run. If I had to put myself in a category I think I’d fall somewhere in between lifestyle and documentary photography. I enjoy working in natural lighting/settings and I do find it more rewarding to capture moments as they happen in actuality rather than scenes that are staged.
What are you trying to portray through your work? Tell us what you are exploring through your images and words.
I think a big part of my work is to show photography in a way that it provokes a sense of higher understanding and in turn creates an avenue for conversations on difficult subjects. For instance in Atlanta, homelessness is at an all time high. Many times I find myself inclined to capture a moment in the life of one of Atlanta’s homeless population. Not to exploit them, but to allow the world to remember their face. In a time where our heads are constantly looking down at our palms and into our phone screens we may find it easy to ignore social and economic issues that remain present right in front of us.
I want to explore these issues through my lens. A lot of politics and opinions can be disputed for years and over time words begin to seem obsolete. Photographs will remain embedded into the minds of anyone who has viewed them. I want to make a big impact with mine.
What type of camera do you use?
I use a Canon Rebel T1i.
If you had the option of picking five words to describe your creative journey, what would they be?
If I could describe my creative journey in five words I’d use the words resilient, painful, uncomfortable, forbearing, and beautiful.
Having not taken photography as a degree at University, do you feel you would want to do that?
One of the best things to me about being self taught is that I’m so open to experimenting. I’m not so fascinated with the rules of photography. Instead I just simply capture a photograph when I feel the impulse. The lighting may not be ideal or whatever the case may be, but I still took the chance. This often results in my best work. Any technical funky stuff I can just Google or Youtube. With all of that being said, I do think I’d be interested in studying dark room photography and film. I tried to teach myself film and it did not go so well no matter how many Youtube tutorials I watched haha. I think its sort of a sacred practice and the foundation of my craft.
Do you feel studying the art of photographs within a confined syllabus/module is the best way to express and explore one’s creativity?
I think that as with any syllabus or module you’d have pros and cons. On the positive side I think that going to university for photography or any art teaches you a lot of foundation, history, and technique. Is it all always going to be used once you get out there on your own? Absolutely not lol. I think some of the curriculum in art majors can be a little diluted in order to get a general grasp on such subjective topics. The fact that every artist is unique with respect to their own style seems to make it difficult to develop a solid set of courses that everyone will find beneficial. Another good thing about an art major is that they tend to prepare you for what its really like in that field of study. I majored in fashion and quickly realized that it wasn’t the industry for me.
Any long term plans? Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five to ten years?
Long term, I plan to be out exploring the world and publishing my work in various forms. I would also like to be more active within the community as far as volunteering with different organizations and figuring out how to spread the word about some of the great things a lot of them are doing. I’m also hoping that I get to collaborate with some of my favorite photographers and visual storytellers.