The Homeless Cliche

cleanup of homeless camp, salt lake city

I used to spend so much time building these things. No time for that now, I just run a photomerge, figuring I’ll go back and do it right when it’s time to print a 40×100 inch print.

When I was trying to break into photojournalism, I put on a long-sleeve shirt and took my portfolio to the local newspaper. It was a cold call, but a wise and talented photographer kindly took the time to look at my work.

homeless camp, salt lake city

A lot of my work then was street photography in the dirtier parts of San Francisco. He told me I didn’t need to bother photographing the homeless anymore. It’s a cliche, he told me.

I guess I’m a bad listener.

And that photographer is dead now.

Anything Helps

man asleep on grass

people with signs looking for help from passing cars

people with signs looking for help from passing cars

street people crossing the street

Shooting through the windshield was never an option before. I was a photographer interested in sharpness and clarity. I spent my food money on sharp lenses I couldn’t afford and then put them through meticulous tests. I wouldn’t even wear sunglasses, just so I could see the world as the camera did.

Now I’m embracing the distortions of the cheap glass, performing extreme crops, and dragging Lightroom sliders in attempts to recover contrast and color. Perfect technique is sitting in the backseat this year while content is riding shotgun.

Look clearly at what’s going on around you. And welcome to America.