Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beautifully Lit Homeless Photos

Yeah, don't quite know what to make of 'em myself. But this is of course, one of the age old paradoxes/dilemmas inherent to photography- it's innate ability to purposely or even unintentionally modify reality and convert something abhorrent, distasteful or "unfortunate" into that which is visually palatable, even "beautiful." Some of the best conflict photographers of all time do it... all the time! The most dynamically composed photos of every imaginable earthly suffering, bathed in the light of divine inspiration (think Salgado). Sometimes it's the only way that anyone will ever get you to look at these people and the plight they are forced to endure, other times you'll find yourself noticing and reacting to everything in the photograph but the people. Few photographers can successfully traverse that fine line between art and exploitation, responsible journalism and tabloid sensationalism.

B&W is the usual legal tender; ironically, it can either be used to make things look down and dirty, or as in this case, it can abstract things to the point of near beauty. And I certainly don't mean to portray these photos as anything other than what the title implies. I usually, purposely refuse to take "cheap shots" of people who are down and out, precisely because they are so exploitative. Fortunately, other photographers much better than I, are more than capable of documenting those in need in a manner that can, in fact, be socially responsible and/or beneficial (which always involves the necessary time and dedication).

These photos were taken on the run, usually to or from work. It was both the irony and contradictions these photographs present that compelled me to take them. I kid you not, the lighting involved was far grander than what these lo res jpegs portray, and the very conflicted feelings they induce in me, are both palpable- and necessary.   More here, and here...

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