Get To Know
This is John, he sits on Wall St. every day on a stack of mail storage boxes that he has collected. He has been sitting in the same spot for many years.
John is partly deaf. He spends his day drawing and writing signs on paper from nearby subway stops or newspapers. He said that people do not usually stop and say hi so he tries to stay busy by being creative. John hopes to make $20 a day so that he can sleep in a bed at the shelter.
John had the most genuine smile. When I asked for his photograph he quickly finished his sign so that he could be photographed with it. He was shy at first but then decided to smile.
John is one of those people you want to sit and talk to. He had the most positive and optimistic ora about him that was so contagious.
John's most pride possession is his pen so that he can write and draw what is on his mind.
This photograph is also of John but from January earlier this year. I had not spoken to John yet or introduced myself to him.
This photograph is the reason I decided to start this project. I decided that if I was going to continue to photograph homeless people, I would take the time to get to know them first.
I quickly realized that these photographs would only make a difference and mean something if there is a story to tell.
John inspired me to start "Get To Know A Stranger"
This is Debbie. She moves around because she likes a change of scenery. That way she is amongst different types of people every day.
Debbie is a domestic violence victim and started living on the streets because she had nowhere else to go. Debbie has always been an animal lover. She adopts animals from an animal shelter. Prior to adopting her 1- year - old Kitten Stacy, she had a dog. Debbie mentioned that she hopes more people adopt animals because she herself knows what it is like to not have a home.
She had the most beautiful ring collection and feathers in her hair.
This is Tim. He has been homeless for a year and a half. He sits outside of Burger King in the financial district. He spends most of his day holding the door open for customers. Sometimes people buy him something, but he mostly does it to stay distracted and busy.
He came to New York City with enough money for six months of rent and the promise of a well-paying job. The job turned out to be a scam, working on commission. He was knocking on doors trying to sell papers. When he first accepted the job, that was not what he thought he would be doing. He was promised a salary. When his money ran out, he was on the street. He tried for months to get a new job, but then one night at a shelter he got all his belongs taken, including his social security card and ID. Tim now begs for money to slowly start getting his life together in hopes of one day being able to have a roof over his head and getting a job.
Tim shared that the worst part about being homeless is not begging for money, but that people either walk by you like you do not exist or they purposely move seats on the subway to avoid sitting beside you. "I do my best to not smell, even though my clothes are dirty."
He explains that it is important for him to try and stay clean because the dirtier he looks, the fewer people help him. He has deodorant and shampoo in his backpack.