War Photographer, Séamus Conlan, will erect an outdoor photo studio in Venice on August 10th as part of a photography tour across the U.S. to document the diversity of Americans.

In an effort to bring awareness to diversity in America, renowned photojournalist, Séamus Conlan has come up with the We Are One Voice 25 city photographic tour across the United States.  Throughout the tour, the public is invited to participate in an outdoor photo shoot with Séamus, who will then use the images to create a live exhibit, leaving each city with a permanent document of their united culture and diversity.  Séamus has chosen Los Angeles as the inaugural city for the tour, profiling this city’s diverse culture on Venice Beach.  SoCal Mag conducted a brief interview with Séamus Conlan, and got his take on what Diversity means to him and why he’s doing this project.

Where did the inspiration for We Are One Voice come from?  I don’t know if there’s really a straight answer for inspiration overall.  I’ve been a journalist all my life, and as a journalist, I’ve always fought for equality and tried to tell people the things that are happening in this World and make them aware of it.  As a photographer, that’s kind of always been my job, to actually show people what the World is like when you’re not paying attention.  The inspiration came from the inequalities of this World.  You see it everywhere.  And I’ve spent my life seeing inequalities from a great deal of people born into the situations they’re in.  Whether you’re a child on the Gaza Strip or a child in Israel, you’re born into that kind of circumstance and that’s where you are.  Whether that’s a color, race, gender, etc., no one should be able to have the right to tell you what you should be.

In comparison to your past projects, how does this one make you feel?  It makes me feel good to be able to do some good and make a change or difference in someone.  That’s why I always try to get involved with big projects of the likeness.  It sounds a little self-satisfying, but it’s a great cause and I get to put the image behind it.  It’s always worthwhile to try to do the right thing and live your life in the right way.

What are the overall goals for #WeAreOneVoice?  There really is just one goal, and that’s to change perspective, and if that takes an individual to actually look at the exhibit and change one person’s perspective, then we’ve won.  I expect the project to continue to change other people’s perspectives and to continue to grow organically, letting people begin to realize we are all the same no matter what we are born into.  Whether it’s religion, color, sexuality… it’s just about changing perspective so that ultimately people can live in peace.  People are angry about things, but we don’t want to stand.  And that’s really the issue.  If I can allow them to see different types of people and make them understand them in a more poetic way then the project has accomplished its goal.

How do you think #WeAreOneVoice will impact the presidential election?  Quite frankly, I think it will have a big impact because it could change some people’s perspectives by seeing people come out and stand up for diversity.  America was built on immigrants, and its richness comes from the immigrants and the diversity they bring.  Trying to believe that never happened is a joke.  It’s what makes America great.  I moved to this country, and I bring things here that a different person didn’t.  We all came together.  It is the melting pot of a rich diverse community.

What does diversity mean to you?  A choice.  Diversity means having a choice.  It means allowing other people to have a choice.  It means allowing other people to be rich with choices.  The fact that anybody has a choice to be who they want to be no matter what they’re born into is diversity.  Diversity is all about leveling the playing ground and seeing people for what they are without judgement.  If you remove that, there’s nothing to fight over.  It all boils down to the saying, “Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand.”  That in itself will begin to hinder your life and in turn, everybody else’s.  If you open your heart and mind, life becomes a very rich place.

#WeAreOneVoice will take place on Wednesday, August 10th, from 9:00am to 7:00pm at the Venice Beach Skate Park.  The public is encouraged to make a reservation through the project’s website, www.WeAreOneVoice.photo, where you can learn more about the movement and about the photographer.  Also, make sure to follow #WeAreOneVoice’s social media accounts for up to date info on the event and the tour’s progress.  Instagram: @weareonevoice1; Twitter: @weareonevoice3; and Facebook: @weareonevoice1

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