Faces of the Forgotten

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We travel through life, sometimes so focused on ourselves, our families and our personal struggles that we tend to ignore the hardships and challenges of others. We may be fortunate to have a roof over our heads and food on the table, but there are millions of people living on the streets of our cities and in our communities without a place to rest their head and worrying when they will eat their next meal. These are the forgotten people, the invisible ones living amongst us. I was one of those individuals who never really thought about the plight of homeless people. They were not on my radar. 

As my photographic career developed I had an intense desire to capture faces passing me on the streets.  Faces that exuded character.  The cracks, tone and weathered look that displayed the hardships of life. I was intrigued by the depth of emotion and individuality that I saw in these faces.  I did not begin this photographic journey with the specific goal of taking images of homeless people in their street environs.  My intent was to do a quick study of the human face. However, after meeting a few homeless individuals, I was taken aback by how much their faces divulged the daily hardships they endured and the heavy burdens they carried in their hearts as well as how much life radiated from them. Their suffering awakened something in me. So what started out as a nascent exploration into my psyche, has overwhelmed my soul. The intensity and the emotional drain I experienced from this project are more powerful than I ever imagined I could feel looking through my camera.

At times, I pushed the envelope being in places where I was not welcomed. Being threatened, but also tenderly hugged, kissed and told what an amazing difference I made in their lives. Through respect and trust relationships were established and even amazing friendships created. I saw individuals; a unique look, a personality, and a life story etched on faces. I took an interest in each of them and would like to believe I restored a small but significant piece of their self-esteem. They come from diverse cultures, but together they form a cultural mosaic that envelops us.

My hope is to shine a spotlight on the homeless so they will not be forgotten; not be lost, not be invisible.

As you view some of the photos I hope you also recognize each person’s uniqueness, the deep thought of their gaze, and the adversity and suffering the streets have thrust on them.