Travel

Photos from a Fun Day Out with the Masonic Order of Liberia

Photographer Conor Beary ended up in Monrovia, visiting his girlfriend's family, and wound up with an invite to a largely secretive annual celebration.

by Conor Beary
Oct 30 2016, 4:00pm

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

The average Christmas holiday with your girlfriend's family doesn't always include a trip to the local Masonic temple. But photographer Conor Beary just rolled with it. Last December, he spent a month shooting in various parts of Liberia, visiting his girlfriend's parents back in their home country. And, after a drink or two the night before, he ended up taking his camera out on a scorching day in Monrovia.

"I was at a pool party one evening," he says, "and got invited by a family friend to the ceremony the next day. He said a time and a place and I showed up to the temple at eight next morning, without any real any idea of what to expect, The only Masons I've seen before had been in a Simpsons episode."

This felt a world away. Locals in the area looked on as the masons marched—"the streets of Monrovia aren't really the type of place that morning suits and top hats go unnoticed"—and Conor did his best to fight off a coming hangover under the hot sun. For the most part, the Masons didn't seem that bothered about the unexpected appearance of a white guy with a camera.

"I spoke with people all day, and got quite a mixed feeling from a lot of the Masons. I don't think they're a community that gets a great deal of exposure so I think some were naturally quite wary—either that or busy. But the vast majority were really friendly and welcoming, I even got a few invitations to become a member."

He's still deciding. In the meantime, here are more of the photos from his trip.

See the rest of his work on his website and find out about a trip to Liberia that Conor's crowdfunding to set up photo workshops for children in Monrovia's West Point township.