Just who are America’s homeless and how do you know who they are?
This morning when I logged into my account on LinkedIn there was a response from a young lady about a street photography lesson I had posted yesterday.
Her comment, while very good, was also inaccurate in one respect. She made some appropriate comments about photographing homeless people and I’ve included her entire comment here:
“Just a thought. My professor in college told us ‘If you’re going to shoot people who are obviously living on the street for your own gain, shouldn’t you give them something in return?’ It may be a great shot, but how would we feel if the roles were reversed? Talk to them and ask permission. Make sure you realize and make it clear that they are doing you a favor.
Yes, I know you can legally photograph anyone in a public area and not need a model release. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be polite and respectful of some one. Ask if there is anything you can do in return. The answer may surprise you.”
One problem with this statement. Notice the word “…obviously…”? Her comment, “…people who are obviously living in the street…” got me to thinking.
A few years ago in Asheville, North Carolina I got to wondering about a photo essay that might drive home the point that any of us – at any time – could become homeless. I wandered the streets for a week or so taking photos of people that I passed. Since I’ve done some volunteer work with the homeless in Asheville I knew right away who was homeless and who wasn’t. Since my face was well known around the homeless community, I had the benefit of built-in trust and was able to point the lens at anyone without confrontation.
The results of this photo essay are in this blog. Of the people shown in the photos, which are “…obviously…” homeless?
To quote the author of the original note on LinkedIn:
“The answer may surprise you.”
To see a slideshow of ALL the photos included in the essay, click here.