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Barry Mayo Reframed: From Radio Mogul to Photographer and Award Winning Filmmaker Chasing Light

Christine Passarella By

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Photography and Film

Barry Mayo's next chapter in life would open his heart and mind to a flourishing spiritual life serving humanity through his outstanding work in photography and film. Barry left the world of radio permanently and moved to his home in Upstate, New York full time. His home sits on ten acres of beautiful wooded land in the Hudson Valley of New York. "I feel closest to God when I am in nature," Barry told me, "That is why I separated myself and live in the woods. There is a constant journey of enlightenment... I have been living here for ten years. I am not the same person or photographer since I came here."

Barry Mayo is a light chaser. He has evolved into a great professional photographer capturing images of life in the decisive moment. One of his influences is the legendary street photographer Henri Cartier Bresson whose work informed and inspired Barry's artful life. Barry recommended Bresson's excellent book The Decisive Moment to me. The beautiful book filled with magnificent images of life helped me understand this genre of photography, and is part of the world that now fuels Barry's creative process. "The decisive moment speaks about capturing that split second, and it tells a story...it communicates in a way most people can understand... Capturing these moments are totally instinctual, and you almost can't think," he shared with me. Barry takes pictures of everyday things from his unique artistic lens. You can view some of Barry's outstanding photography on his site at barrymayophotographs.com and his Instagram page. His beautiful and compelling photography helps frame the meaning of life through which he shares his heart and soul.

"I shoot for myself. It is all about light from a physics standpoint...In the digital world, it is light hitting a sensor in bits and bites....I am chasing light physically, spiritually and metaphorically. The way it hits me is about growth," Barry explained. "As a photographer, I get satisfaction for myself, but I can share this growth with others on my website and on Instagram. I am a seeker... My eyes always open to other ways to look at the light....On a spiritual level, my work which has now morphed into film, is about seeking and sharing more light in terms of bringing the races together."

Questions about race issues became part of his reframed life in his maiden voyage creating the award-winning documentary short, Maya Osborne: Confessions of a Quadroon. Barry has an interest in examining the lives of the offspring of people who were in interracial unions. He was raised at a time when there were still laws on the books in the United States which made it illegal for a black person and white person to be married.

Giving a platform to people who are mixed race, and are both black and white is important to Barry. In his award-winning documentary, it is stunning when we discover that Maya Osborne's white father is unaware his twenty-year-old daughter does not identify as white. The artist is a gifted spoken word poet with a black mother and white father. I highly recommend that you get a hold of this documentary. Maya Osborne: Confessions of a Quadroon originally opened at Heidi Durrow's Remix/Mix Conference in 2015 and has shown in 11 film festivals all over the country, winning two awards. In his desire to seek light, Barry wants to help broaden our horizons and shrink the spaces between people. In the language of John Coltrane, he is truly a force for good.

Family Man

As I have come to know Barry through our deep conversations, it is clear to me that he is a family man and a loyal friend to those who are blessed to be in his vortex. His daily life includes meditation and a close connection to family. Recently becoming a grandfather has brought him boundless joy. His son Alex is father to baby Marley and watching him become a father is profoundly wonderful to him. Barry is also the proud father of Barry A. Mayo II, and Alana Aisha Mayo his only daughter. Alana has distinguished herself in the film industry and focused on socially impactful work. She is the President of Production and Development for actor Michael B. Jordan's Outlier Society Productions, and engaged to Grammy Award-winning writer and acclaimed actress Lena Waithe.

Divorced and now single Barry has maintained close family ties to the mother of his children. "Divorce does not have to be ugly," he once told me. This seemed remarkable to me, because it is a challenge in my life being divorced to keep peace and unity. Barry is unique and devoted to what really matters to him which is love, peace, and committed life. He often celebrates the holidays with his three children, the mother of his children, and her husband proving love can win over negative forces.

This devotion to family came from his parents' example of togetherness. His loving father, a police officer passed years ago, but he was blessed to have his mother Annie B. Mayo until her recent passing at the age of 93. Her loss was crushing to him, and yet he knows her love is infused in every cell of his being. When he speaks of her or shows photos of her beaming smile, it is evident she was a gem. Barry is also a devoted brother to his precious sister Iris Basham whom he adores. Their younger sister died at the tender age 18.

Black Leaders

"Race is the biggest issue in this country now," Barry said, "It is going in the worst possible place at this time." The most influential black leader impacting him is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As he has grown, he does see the importance in understanding the work of leaders like Malcom X, Louis Farrakhan, and the Black Panthers. Mayo feels Louis Farrakhan could have been a national leader for black people, but some of the issues he focuses on are too controversial.

The March on Washington had a dramatic impact on Barry as a boy with Dr. King sharing his we shall overcome message. The first Million Man March, later on, was one of the most powerful experiences of his life. "Having gone through the discomfort and confusion about my blackness, having had one foot in the black world and white world growing up, being at the Million Man March and in the presence of that kind of power and love was simply amazing. When I got back to Chicago, I saw the difference in attitude with the brothers on the street, and that was an outgrowth of the Million Man March."

Spiritual Quest

The man I have come to know is a deeply spiritual person. Barry does not follow an organized religion, but he does have a commitment to his deep spiritual path. He has a strong belief in God. Around the time I met Barry, he started his participation in Inventure Outward Bound Trips with world-renowned Life Coach Richard Leider who leads spiritual walking trips in East Africa. Barry has traveled extensively in his life, but his two trips to Tanzania have had a deep and transformative impact on his life. There he experienced the culture of hunter-gatherers who shared their knowledge with him. The photo accompanying this article shows Mayo with children in Tanzania who are amazed at seeing their own images on his camera. Richard Leider has stated that the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you learn why you were born.

There is no doubt that Barry Mayo has an appreciation for the gift of life and the value of knowing and living your purpose. Having a reason to get up every morning can bring fulfillment to the human heart. The miracle in all of this, once you become aware of your gifts and nurture them, the joy is in sharing and giving your gifts away to have others bask in them as well.

I asked Barry if he was optimistic about the world for his grandchild. He said, "The joy of grandparenting is everything you have heard, how cool and how hip it is to be a grandparent is true. For Marley for the future, I have hope and trepidation...The family will do our best to protect and teach Marley how to navigate this very confusing and scary world... I want to believe in my heart of hearts he will be okay, but I can't tell you that I know what the world is going to look like when he is eight, fifteen or twenty-five because I just don't know." Barry Mayo is an example of a man living in the rapture of the human experience. I feel confident baby Marley will be empowered through his grandfather's lens on life.

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