Photography for social change

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by pacefreeman, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. Hi all,
    I have been involved with street and documentary photography for some years. The journey I have taken with the camera has changed my views of the world in many ways. I no longer care so much for the comments and feedback on the moments I capture, instead I hope to connect with the viewer on a more personal level.
    My aim is to is try and change peopes view of the world in which they live, maybe even inspire them to go out and make changes themselves.

    For far too long I have done nothing that I can say would make a difference. Now though it is time to face those fears and put all of who I am into what I believe to be true.
    I have initiated a non-profit photography project which I hope will made a difference to peoples lives.
    The output of the work will be provided completly free to the public.
    There is a short 3 minute video that I created to explain the project, located at:
    The project website can be found at
    Any help of feedback people can offer would be gratefully accepted.
    Kindest of regards,
    Pace Freeman
  2. So basically you signed up at today not to talk about street photography (and indeed, to tell us you're not interested in talking about street photography), but to get web traffic to your money-raising platform.

    I think you'll raise more money if the pitch on that site is less vague and platitudinous, and more specific about the "change" and "truths of the human condition" you want the money for. Regardless, your pitch will be more credible and compelling if you rid the first few paragraphs on the money-handling page of the grammar/punctuation errors and the glaring mis-spelling of your own project's name.

    Do I sound snarky, here? Sure. Because you obviously weren't here to contribute to this community, and you for sure didn't read the terms of service right in front of you as you joined. So that's my feedback: be more thoughtful and far more specific in your sales pitch, and be more respectful of other web sites' membership rules when you use them for drive-by advertising.
  3. No Matt your conclusions are very wrong indeed... but hey some people live with fear and anger and spend their lives looking for ways to complain and fuss.

    If you had questions and real concern about people and humanity your approach would be one of help and assistance... not one of speaking out like a child with frustration and anger... but this is really one of the problems we face today, it is easier to put others down than it is to come together and offer genuine advice to help people succeed.
    I only hope you understand that my words are not to to infuriate you more, but rather to let you see your own frustration and mis-givings.
    If you are able to offer any positive advice then I would be more than happy to listen. Photography for me is not just a hobby or next status symbol, it is a way of life a passion, something I use to explain not only my own fears in the world but also the fears of others.
    As for gramatical errors, it is not easy typing on an old worn out IPAD. My equipment is basic and very old. I do not however believe photography is about what camera you use or even the computer, it is a medium to share a message... That message can be very superficial and shallow, or if may have a little depth...
    Wishing you a day of smiles.
  4. Matt, with all respect for your intentions, I think, you overplayed your role as gatekeeper. In my eyes, Pace should be welcomed, as so many others are in this forum. His project seems to me to be worth listening to and eventually supporting.
    His shots from especially Lisboa of homeless people, are in my eyes of quality and deserve our attention.
    I wish you all success, Pace.
  5. Anders: Overplaying it (or playing gatekeeper at all) would have meant flagging the post immediately as spam. You'll notice I didn't do that. I routinely welcome most new members when I notice them - especially because most of them aren't here to push up the Google rank of their kickstarter/etc solicitation page. The moderators (and rules) here regularly - and for good reason - discourage blog flogging and solicitations.
    looking for ways to complain and fuss.​
    Nah, Pace: mostly I just remark out loud when I notice what pretty much adds up to forum spam from someone who joined this web site just to drive traffic somewhere else.
    I only hope you understand that my words are not to to infuriate you more, but rather to let you see your own frustration and mis-givings.​
    Who's furious? I've provided you two things: first an observation about how it's not really good form, or in keeping with the agreement you made a few minutes ago, to use this web site the way you just have ... and secondly some very specific advice (you know, the feedback you said you're after?) on how you might otherwise improve your chance of collecting the money you want. Your old iPad isn't responsible for sentence construction, you are. And I'm serious when I say that your communication style is an important part of getting the money you want. The page you're sending people to should establish, rather than diminish your credibility as a communicator.
    If you are able to offer any positive advice then I would be more than happy to listen.​
    I just did, and you didn't.
    If you had questions and real concern about people and humanity​
    Actually, I didn't have any questions at all. I was pointing out how the humanity and people on this web site tend to truly reward substantive contributions to these forums, but also how they've grown understandably tired of drive-by accounts created to drop off solicitations for cash as their first (and frequently only) activity on the site. This site is as visible as it is on Google because it carefully avoids that sort of spam.
    your approach would be one of help and assistance​
    Yup, definitely missing the point. Just because you don't like the site's terms or are annoyed that someone finds "social change via photography" to be a less than compelling business plan doesn't mean help wasn't offered. Lead a horse to water, etc.
  6. I suggest you get back to your "business plan" for social change, Pace. Anders and I are listening.
  7. Matt look I think we´ve got off on the wrong foot here, all I want to do is join a photography forum that I can feel passionate about and share what I´m passionate about.
    Yes this project is very important to me, infact it represents the entire search for my own persoanl truth.
    If I can join a photography forum where more people get to see the those moments the I am happy.
    I hope you see this in the work that I would like to share while on this site.
    kind regards
  8. You might want to go to this page, do a search on the word "homeless," and see the kind of reception these kinds of projects usually receive here.
  9. Thank you Damon I will take a look. The project is not just about homeless people though, its about all people, from all walks of life.
    Thank you
  10. Damon, you are right such shots do not have good press here around, but I don't think it should, by any means, prevent
    people from entering the field. It is surely a minefield, so people, Pace included, should prepared for explaining
  11. I also agree that such shots of homeless people do have very bad press. I take the time to get to know the people i'm
    taking photos of, I see them every day. I try to be respectful while as the same time showing the sadness i feel.

    I have spent time in some god awful places, Where no human should live, what I have experienced there keeps me doing
    what I do.

    We have a media projected truth that is repeted so much it saturates our thoughs. We stop to see the other 99% of truth
    in our societys. If we are distracted in our minds we become unaware of what is happening arround us.

  12. For over 10 years I worked in the arena of international business, project management and IT security.​
    Well then, you should have some moolah saved up, no?
  13. You are all hard markers.
    You do whatever you want to, and if you want to use photography as a way of creating awareness about matters that concern you, that's fine. But there is a fine line between creating awareness and lecturing people to adopt your point of view.
    Most people would have a concern about social injustice, but how to correct it is the hard part.
    Photo Net is not a forum about social justice, its simply a facility to show your photographic skills and to be better at that.
    Why you want to be here is your business and we will all welcome seeing your images. Also be careful about raising issues through US eyes. PN is very much an international site with people from very diverse communities, some of which would horrify more fortunate people, but to them its normal. They will have a different view of the world. Like with religion, do try keep your politics and social concern more to yourself.
    If you really want to make a difference, join Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International where you will find a keen audience.
  14. Pace,
    I don't think you are being completely honest here. While I can certainly appreciate your goal of helping others who are in need, you state that you gratefully welcome feedback. So when Matt then gives you exactly what you asked for, maybe not in the way you would have liked, you accuse him of living in fear and anger, and basically not having compassion. Not exactly what I would call a "grateful response". If you are not really interested in feedback, fine, then don't ask for it.
  15. Mike, "grateful responses" can be difficult to deliver when you get harsh feedbacks, but you are right, Pace answered with some exaggerations. Don't we all from time to time. Let's greet newcomers with open arms and concentrate on their photography, which in this case is of some interest, in my eyes, because of their theme and of their general quality.
  16. I see this is a warm friendly place to be,

    With the kindest of regards, I have more important things to do than justify my word and actions when others fail to take
    time to read or even understand the words. This thread is so far off topic, it goes to show why we have a world like we do

    Most things people have said have absolutly no relivance to any part of the origional thread.
    Thank you to those who have taken the time to read and understand.

    Responses about having lots of moola saved up is actually quite rediculous, maybe it was supposed to be a little fun, who
    knows. We find it so easy to go out and put others down in anyway we can, without ever knowing there story. The
    responses and tones displayed by people here say everything that needs to be said.

    I will refrain from judging all people on here by the responses though.
    I hope you continue to enjoy your photography, keep smiling and remain open to change.

  17. it


    take it outside y'all
  18. Pace,
    The mix of responses you received are typical for this forum. For the most part you get good feedback here. I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the forum members by reading archived posts of interest to you, thicken up your skin, and keep on posting.
  19. Pace's account was deleted. Either he deleted it because of the reaction or the moderator deleted it.

    If it was done to him, then thats a sad day for open thought and freedom of expression. PN may not have been the right vehicle for his crusade of awareness. I would be very disappointed if the function of moderator had morphed into censor.

    But surely that was not the case? I truly hope I was wrong.
  20. Moderators cannot delete user accounts (that requires the deadly powers of an administrator). At no point has anyone tried to stifle Pace's freedom of expression. I removed the links he posted after it became clear that he was not genuinely interested in feedback. As a matter of course, I generally delete links for fundraising as soon as I see them, but I decided to give Pace a chance to address the (legitimate) concerns that Matt raised. Instead, he blamed negative feedback entirely on the character flaws of those who didn't praise him. Based on that, I've put him in the "just another spammer" category.
  21. You were wrong, Mike, in this case, but obviously you have the power to do what you did. Luckily it does not change the
    fact that PN is still a great place, despite.
  22. All I did was remove the links after the user deleted his own account. It's nice that you think is still a great place despite the moderators cleaning up the spam. I mean, we do our best to make a horrible place, but we're just not very good at it.
  23. I can't see to find Pace's pages any more after clicking on the links. This is an interesting thread and for any would be online traffic direction scheme, the thread serves as a reminder for what the site is, a dedicated forum for the discussion of the technical and to a lesser extent, the theory of photography. Personally, I do rather like that. However, it is very difficult for the social media savvy new user to work that out. Traffic and the generation of traffic is so heavily on their mind. SEO optimisation is their lifeblood and I guess this site is a little too old fashioned for that.
  24. Starvy: It's not that the site is old fashioned on the SEO topic. It's that allowing it to become a link farm would actually reduce PN's visibility on search engines like Google. Erring-on-the-side-of-no-SEO-spammers in the way such forums are moderated is an act of SEO - but it's for PN's own SEO, not for the benefit of drive-by link herders. PN and its membership have a vested interest in not seeing this site lose its standing with Google by allowing it to be yet another swamp of blog-flogging, affiliate-linking, guerrilla-marketing noise. It's why posts here don't have link-polluted signatures - what a relief!

    That social media savvy new user knows exactly what he or she is doing when they try to leverage PN's good reputation for their own stand-out link. I think I'd cut such users a bit more slack if they had the decency to actually subscribe to PN before using it for free advertising.

    Mike's link moderation was exactly the right call. The difference here is that Mr. SEO Guy (Pace is not his actual name, anyway) had a chance to show a little grace before getting the moderation that happens to most such users instantly, without discussion. And it was super clear that grace is not what he's about. He's about: "Give me money to shoot homeless people so I can be seen later generously giving away my World Changing perspective on Human Truth." And I actually have no problem with that being his MO, but there's no reason that PN should risk eroding a bit of its own Google page rank by hosting links to his fundraising pitch, especially when he's got no history of making PN a better place.

    He could easily have provided a link to his main web site in his bio/profile here, and cultivated a normal, constructive relationship with PN's membership ... and that would have produced, in the long run, far more traffic for his own web presence. But he went for the my-first-ever-post-is-a-sales-pitch-with-link, and showed his real priorities.

    I think that the process through which PN generates new user accounts needs to be a lot more instructive about how not to set off the spam radar the minute one signs up. Fewer excuses that way.

    For what it's worth, I've flagged two other posts from brand new users already this morning - both blatant cases of having created user IDs in order to post marketing spam links in the forums. Such users show up every day, without fail. "Pace" didn't get shown the door because it seemed more like a boundary case, best left for moderation. Mike's role is a completely thankless one (see above, where's he's being blamed for doing the very thing that keeps this site viable).
  25. ""I mean, we do our best to make a horrible place, but we're just not very good at it.""

    Nonsense Mike ! I would not say that with some more efforts, you might just succeed to the greatest satisfaction of a few others, but I think you went over the top. I'm sure you accept my right to an opinion on the subject
    Personally, I would have send a short standard e-mail to Pace welcoming him to PN and informing him about the rules, that he might have violated and another letter to Matt to invite him to be somewhat less abusive when writing. But that's just me. The results of both these positive ways of acting might in fact make PN even a better place for a majority of us.
  26. "Abusive." Really?

    The only abuse here was on the part of the person who joined a web site specifically with a mind to abuse the site's terms of use by making his first post a link to an external sales pitch. That's by definition abuse of this site, as he was acting deliberately and purposefully in way contrary to the terms he agreed to moments before he made his post. Pointing that out to him is not abusing him. He is a career IT professional - he can't pretend to not understand the plain language PN terms of use, and he sure didn't accidentally paste in his money solicitation link. Such abuses are marked as spam and deleted from the site many times every day. His was not. Abuse of him?

    And how was Mike's editing of the solicitation links "Pace" left behind after Pace deleted his own account a case of Mike doing anything at all "over the top?" Should Mike have left the advertising link intact, benefiting the drive-by site member's cash raising campaign? Why should his SEO links be left alone, while others are routinely removed as a matter of normal PN moderation? The moderators clean up all sorts of messes so everyone else can talk photography. Don't eat sausage if you don't want to know how its made!
  27. Does any of this mean I can't hit people up for $$$ to help defer my film and darkroom costs? Damn! That was going to be my next post here. Seriously, I think it's inappropriate to create an account and then try to solicit funds for a project. I believe there are numerous grants around for these purposes and the OP should look into those instead.
  28. Chill folks, we are all good forum friends here. Politics, religion, morals and ethics...well. we all know where it goes.
    Otherwise I will subject you all to a rant about wickedness of something or the other;))
  29. Pace's responses were rather dodgy, I sense English was not his first language and his choice in how he decided to respond speak for themselves. But for what its worth, I didn't dislike his photographs. (probably not really relevant anymore:)
  30. I like his shots too, Barry. Go to his portfolio on PN where you find 23 of them for the moment.
  31. Anders, the set I saw seemed to have more engaged portraits and seemed to be in different cultures as well. This set here I'm seeing a lot of sleeping homeless with their backs turned to the camera, They don't do anything for me. Some I like I recognized from the other set. Maybe I didn't see all of his other photos that he linked to, but they seemed better to me than these.
  32. >>> They don't do anything for me.

    Me neither. No connection, empathy, or narrative depth. For me, they mostly feel like exploitive eye
    candy that many times is couched as "raising awareness."
  33. For me, they mostly feel like exploitive eye candy that many times is couched as "raising awareness."​
    And actually, I feel the dehumanization in some of these actually dulls awareness of these people.
  34. Barry, I agree with you that he has better shots than most of those shown in his PN folder
  35. One would think that he would post better examples of his work if he is going to try to get donations for his projects.
  36. I take umbrage at Ian's suggestion the protagonists "take it outside." These gloves-off posts are what make such forums so appealing. It's a bit like watching Formula 1. It's the crashes, or the expectation of, that keeps most of us glued to our TV sets.
  37. Clive, I agree with you. "I went to a fight once, and a hockey match broke out" kind of a thing. The S&D forum has a lot of spirit.
  38. >>> They don't do anything for me.
    Me neither. No connection, empathy, or narrative depth. For me, they mostly feel like exploitive eye candy that many times is couched as "raising awareness."​
    I agree with Barry and Brad. For me the work comes across as exploitative and lazy. Anyone living in a good sized city can go around and take pictures of sleeping homeless people. Really connecting with people, and what they are experiencing, that's a whole different kettle of fish.
  39. Sorry, I thought twice about showing this. Though I usually don't shoot street people, I thought when I saw and took this photo that it actually did have some elements that in some way "raised awareness". But I'm not sure anyone else will see it that way. I'll risk it. Its not part of any series other than street series in Hollywood but I liked it. [​IMG]
  40. The thing that bothers me with all the homeless photographers out there is that they all try to convince others that they are taking these pictures to raise awareness. I don't mean people like Barry above because he isn't a homeless person photographer nor am I but I have taken a couple over the years as well as the Xmas day I spent on LA's Skid Row that I've written about here before. I mean the folks like the OP in this thread and some of the others I've read about including one guy who I also mentioned previously who was some kind of ivy league college graduate who was working as a investment banker or broker or something like that who decided that raising awareness (there's that catch phrase again) by photographing homeless people was his true calling. Give me a break. The pictures these folks present are all mediocre and they all tend to look the same regardless of who the photographer was.It always seemed to me to be a way of sidestepping any guilt one may feel over the exploitative nature of photographing the homeless.
  41. Well, Pace.
    Courage of your convictions under the face of adversity is a thought that comes to mind.
    But, you legged it.
    In the UK "Pace Freeman" would be sort of a made up name.
    If I believed in my project, and I'm nothing special, I would hold my ground...if nothing else in support of those I photographed.
    Perhaps you have not that sort of involvement.
  42. Like those Bankers who gamble with folks money....and when they fail still have their millions.
    Why would they care about anything or anyone.
    Best to cut the wages/ welfare so the poor can pay for it all.
  43. An Analogy.
  44. There are many first world countries whose leaders brag that they are tackling homelessness, underemployment and a lack of healthcare for the needy, but most try to sweep this under the carpet. I think what Pace was attempting to do was to raise the issue to see what more could be done. Photography won't do much if the social programs from government are wanting.
    But he did not consider that we all know its a problem and inconsistent policy undermines the effect of whatever social programs do already exist.
    If you look at education, employment and social programs across most developed countries, its interesting to note that some of the biggest ones have poor programs compared to smaller countries. I'll use three examples and I apologise if saying this ruffles a few feathers, but these examples are sourced from reliable publications.
    Which developed country has by far the best education system: Finland
    Which developed country has the best universal healthcare: New Zealand
    Which developed country has the best path back to employment programs: Canada.
    Surprised? Which developed countries compare very badly: Most of the EU, USA, most South American countries.
    Where is change most evident? Asia
    Pace did not do his homework. I did. I am from Argentina, I was raised in Australia, I have worked all over the world in the space of 40 years. Pace should be targeting neglect by government by lobbying his government to take more action. Taking a few photos will do nothing. To be an agent of change takes courage. The likes of Michael Moore and Ralph Nader come to mind. Melinda Gates is another.
    Personally, I think we have thrashed this one out.
  45. Sebastio Salgado is another who would come to mind Francisco.
  46. "I think what Pace was attempting to do was to raise the issue to see what more could be done. . . .

    But he did not consider that we all know its a problem . . ."

    That is what I consider the most fundamental flaw with his "project." He would not be "breaking the silence" (his catchline). Most people are well aware that poverty, homelessness, and inequality exist. I doubt that many people will think that donating 3,000 Euros to someone so he can buy a nice laptop and audio recorder is an effective means of addressing those problems.
  47. Pace, it is certainly alright on to post a photo with a social message--but send your message through your photography, not your links.
    I am absolutely sure that Dorothea Lange would be welcome here if she were alive today, but she would not bore us with talk. She would inspire us with her photography. Even a link to her photography would likely pass muster with the moderators, although I will not try to speak for them. The point of such a link should surely be to promote discussion of photography. We have the Off-Topic forum if you want to talk about social issues pure and simple.
    Designating someone to call something out of order (or out of bounds) is inevitable in many if not most fields of human activity. I welcome open discussion in my classes, but even I have to put limits on what can be discussed--not as a censor, but to be sure that we stay on track and do not fly off in a million possible directions. This site is about photography, and someone has to be sure that it stays that way. That role is a benign function, not an oppressive one. It would be better if we all regulated ourselves, but unfortunately not everyone seems to be willing to do that.
  48. Some poor soul alone on the streets. Lost.
    Let's take his/her photo with our expensive gear from a distance of course.
    For a good cause of course.
    Of course only for a good cause.
    One day I might be famous for my photography....for a good cause of course.
  49. How many un/underpaid document photographers there trying to raise awareness of the homeless (or other unfairnesses) in the world. And wonder how many of them have had made IT security money? There must be many more deserving than Pace, the OP. And what the hell is "captured from a grassroots, philosophical and humanistic perspective" anyway? Who isn't, the sponsored photographers? How many of those are there? Jeeez, I'm philosophical, humanistic, grassroots and been to dozens of protests (even organized a few). Throw me some travel money...
  50. Concerning, Pace's call for Photography for social change, count me among those who believe that all means should be used for denouncing the situation of homeless people, and that photography can be a powerful tool for it. It should never become a subject that is put aside because it has been done before.
    I also believe that photos showing homeless people smiling to the photography might be of little interest. Seeing them sleeping in the cold while people pass by, might in some cases be more effective.
    ""Which developed country has by far the best education system: Finland
    Which developed country has the best universal healthcare: New Zealand
    Which developed country has the best path back to employment programs: Canada.""
    Francisco, I'm always interested in international comparisons, and I agree with you on Finland's educational (school) system, as well as the track record of Canada concerning average duration of unemployment (best path back to employment programs) although Australia performs even better (2011). However I cannot see how you end up with New Zealand as having the best universal health care system. France, Italy are according to the most recent comparisons the countries with the best universal healthcare systems in the world whereas New Zealand is not even mentioned among the 38 best countries in the field - see here. You might have other sources.
  51. Now I'm no NZ fanboy. But I have experienced the process...twice. Its simple...its all free. For most everyone. They do have a filter on health tourism though.
    How can they pay for it? 1. They disbanded their Airforce. 2. Health and universal, free education (incl university) are their priority. So the government shapes its priority around these essentials.
    It puts the rest of the western world to shame.
  52. Francisco, NZ is ranged as number 42 in the World Health Organization's ranking of health systems in 191 countries, after Cuba, Slovenia and the US. See here. Seven European countries together Japan, Singapore and Oman, are among the top ten.
  53. The medical systems in France and Italy are 1) broke and 2) only available to citizens or permanent residents. Both countries have massive double digit unemployment and their economies are basket cases. I would not be parking my butt in either of the above countries if I wanted a secure future. There is only so much one can get out of tourism.
    I have this discussion with lots of people. My daughter asks me where would be a good place to live. I said Switzerland, but only if she could seduce a Swiss prince.
  54. If you park your "butt" in New Zealand, you would discover, that also there health systems are available to permanent resident or people with a work-permit of minimum two years and not to anyone passing by. In France and Italy, because they are part of the EU, health systems are available to all "European citizens" in the country carrying European Health Insurance cards (available to all more than 500 million EU citizens !) and to non-EU permanent residents. None of the systems are "broke" (unless you only read about it in BusinessWeek), but their longer term financing needs to be updated and reformed due to demographic changes as in much developed countries.

    The most recent national report on NZ health system concluded that the country's health and safety regime is "not fit for purpose", and came with recommendations on "how to fix our broken health and safety system". So maybe you should rethink your dream of safety.

    Concerning princes, most of them fake, you do find them in Switzerland (there are surely more in Italy), but they would probably be foreign residens. Whether they can provide a "secure future" for your daughter, would be dependent on the "price" and not least the mariage contract. :))
  55. What I find sad (and interesting), is that people who claim or want to be "raising awareness" of the
    homeless situation through documenting with their camera, never seem to want to go deep, taking the
    next step in order to accomplish that. It's really not that difficult, but does require a modest commitment of
    time if someone is truly interested.

    It's much easier to take some drive-by snaps of the helpless sprawled out on the sidewalk against the wall from above, resulting in gritty black and white (of course) urban eye candy which is then held out as social documentary photography. Also, shooting in that manner, one never has to worry about subjects
    objecting to being photographed to the point of getting up and punching you in the nose...
  56. Even given my photo above, I must confess that Brad's last is so very true...
  57. Would it again be Pace you are poking on, Brad and Barry ? I would find that quit unfair.
  58. quite !! Sorry
  59. I don't think that was a shot at pace, rather a shot at those that photograph the homeless and try to justify it as "social awareness". I have been guilty of it as well.
    Where I dissagree with Brad is that to document homelesness in a meaningful way is difficult. It requires lots of time, commitment and real empathy.
  60. I agree Steve. When documenting homelessness is well done, it can be a forceful support for social change.
    Personally I have throughout years in my professional work been supporting and financing actions to support homeless people, not to speak about combatting homelessness and extreme poverty in general. In all these actions, photography was often used to raise awareness on a local level as here. Notice, they are indeed sleeping !
    My own photographic works on "streets" do not bring much added value.
  61. Well, the point isn't to document or not document. But just walking around catching guys asleep or passed out doesn't really make a documentary or one of any interest. I'd say Pace's photos fall into the not interesting category, no engagement, its more just taking advantage of them and justifying it as trying to raise awareness. To me the photo needs more, some context or an idea or an actual engagement that brings these people to life. this takes some time and commitment and risk to actually get to know some of these people. And as far as I know, Brad could have been talking indirectly at my photo. I took it because of the irony of the sign on the trash can and the walk of stars and wondering how in the midst of the "entertainment capital of the world" where all is suppose to be glamorous, a guy is trash diving. But it's not part of a documentary and is not engaged in the manner I believe Brad is referring to, if at least it's not a flyby gutter shot of some dude crashed out on the street.
  62. To me the photo needs more, some context or an idea or an actual engagement that brings these people to life.
    I don't know where you live, Barry, but around me "these people" are very much alive and you don't have to convince anybody, that they are human beings. Where "social change" could be happening could be through showing, that their living conditions are inhuman.
    Social contexts for homelessness are different, and I certainly do not deny that sometimes and somewhere, "these people" have been dehumanized and you need another type of message for social change. Both are engaged and compassionate.
  63. >>> Even given my photo above, I must confess that Brad's last is so very true...

    Cheers, Barry. Just to be clear, my comment was not a jab in any way whatsoever at your photo.

    >>> Would it again be Pace you are poking on, Brad and Barry ? I would find that quit unfair.

    Anders, no. And that would not be unfair expressing my opinion in any case. My comment was directed
    towards photographers who come by here, and other places, every once in awhile, and claim to want to
    "raise awareness" of the "homeless" through their photography, but have no interest in going deep. Rather, it always seems
    to be photos taken from a superior (literally) position lacking care or empathy, with zero engagement, and
    without wider context. And in the end do not reveal anything that is not already known.

    Let's take San Francisco as an example. *Everybody* knows there is a homeless problem. Cheap, drive-
    by snaps of people in helpless situations does not raise awareness, reveal anything not known, inform
    with respect to root causes, or suggest any sort of solution.

    This will sound like a generalization, usually, but not always, people who take a lot of pictures of the homeless, it
    seems are uncomfortable taking pictures of able-bodied people in general, for a variety of reasons. And instead, take
    the cheap shot of a disadvantaged person in a helpless situation because such a person is not likely to
    object, get up and chase you down the street because you have taken their picture without
    permission. I've seen that a lot here in the past, and on the street. When I see a group of homeless photos shot close
    up, I always look to see if that photographer has a body or collection of photos of able-bodied people that are not

    It's tough taking candid photos of people in general, close-up. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, that's
    fine - it takes a long time to develop that confidence. But please, in the
    meantime, don't start snapping the disadvantaged and marginalized in helpless situations thinking it's a
    shortcut to people photography, and couch your efforts as "raising awareness." That's just bullshit...
  64. >>> Where I dissagree with Brad is that to document homelesness in a meaningful way is difficult. It
    requires lots of time, commitment and real empathy.

    Steve, I agree with your second sentence, but not the first. If raising awareness is truly your goal, there are ways, given you have the time, curiosity, and drive to go deep. Curiosity, engagement, asking questions, listening, getting stories, learning, sharing food, spending time, befriending, etc for the purpose of understanding and informing would be a great start. I don't view that as difficult...
  65. Brad, the "wider context" is exactly what counts.
    To take it to the extreme again: whatever happens between the homeless person and the photographer, resulting in a shot of a smiling homeless is not that context.It can only be avery small part of it at best. It is much more complicated than that.
    A full documentary on the individual and an in-depth understand of the great variety of personal situations, and life stories, of homeless people, bring us nearer to that context.
    Some of Pace's pictures could be applied within such broader documentations. The picture and actions I referred to ( as here, again) can too, according to my experience.
  66. >>> A full documentary on the individual and an in-depth understand of the great variety of personal
    situations, and life stories, of homeless people, bring us nearer to that context.

    Yep. But that never seems to happen here. Which is my point.

    >>> Some of Pace's pictures could be applied within such broader documentations.

    Sad that "could be" never turns into "have been."

    Again, nobody wants to put in the time to go deep. Until that happens, they're just easy-to-snag drive-by snaps of people in helpless situations, who are not in a good position to object to being photographed.
  67. ""they're just easy-to-snag drive-by snaps of people in helpless situations, who are not in a good position to object to being photographed.""
    I agree on that, but on the other hand if the "street" is the subject, homeless people are part of it and should not be hidden away?
  68. >>> I agree on that, but on the other hand if the "street" is the subject, homeless people are part of it and
    should not be hidden away?

    But the subject was shooting the homeless for "social change" and "raising awareness." I've yet to see
    photos presented here in a context that does that.
  69. As you wrote yourself, Brad, the context needs to be presented before any social change can be envisaged. No photo alone can do justice to the complexity of the context. A photo of a homeless guy looking kindly toward the photographer could eventually highlight the human dimension of homelessness and maybe also indicate a privileged relationship to the photographer if that is of interest, whereas a picture of homeless people sleeping rough, could highlight elements of their general living conditions.
    A vast array of different photos would be needed, supported by other means of documentation, written or oral, to communicate the full complexity of homelessness before such documentation could eventually bring "social change".
    I my eyes, several photos that have been presented in this forum throughout the last years, would be well suited for the purpose.
  70. Anders, you are making my point that I've been harping on above. Again, I've yet to see anyone here who
    claims to be raising awareness or photographing for social change of the homeless to actually go deep.
    That means spending the time and put together a project that informs the larger population who already knows there
    is a homeless issue, having already encountered the imagery first-hand walking down the sidewalk. So far, it's all framed in
    "could" rather than "has." Talk is cheap...

    As I said above, it isn't difficult. It just takes time, caring, and a personal commitment to see such a
    project through. I can imagine a half dozen ways one could proceed if the issue is really something
    close to their heart. So far, with respect to those wanting to raise awareness, I only see easy low-
    hanging fruit snagged from the superior point of view of the drive-by snap of the disadvantaged in helpless situations. Taken,
    I believe, because people in such situations are easy to shoot close without risk of confrontation.
  71. Brad says "snaps of people in helpless situations, who are not in a good position to object to being photographed."
    This doesn't always ring true in LA. I can count on one hand the number of times somebody seriously flipped out at me for shooting in the street. Three of these occasions involved homeless people BUT...they were not the subject of my photograph, nor were they even in the frame. In fact, I wasn't even in the process of taking a picture on two of these occasions, I was simply walking down the street when they (individuals) came up to me and had a major hissy fit because they thought I was going to take a picture of them. In one case I even had my lens cap on as I had finished for the day and was heading back to the train station. I guess homeless photography is all the rage in LA so I suppose seeing anyone with a camera is enough to set some of them off.

    Then again, there have been times where a homeless person asked me to take a picture. Once I did, it was just before Xmas a few years so ago. I promised to bring him a print if he came back to this spot the same time and day the following week. He didn't show up but I hid the picture in a book in the main branch library (it's still there; I check occasionally) in case I see him again. I have noticed this has become a common thing...a homeless person will see a photographer and ask for picture and then ask for money. I can't fault them for this; if homeless photographers are as common in LA as I suspect, they might as well try and make it pay for them as well.

    Just as an FYI, every two years some city organization counts the homeless in LA and this year the numbers have found to be 16% higher then in 2011. I don't know if this includes all of LA county or just LA city because Santa Monica is its own city so it's not a part of LA city (even though it's in LA county), but it has a huge homeless population as well. So does Venice just down the road but Venice is part of LA city.
  72. ""As I said above, it isn't difficult. It just takes time, caring, and a personal commitment to see such a project through.""
    Brad, if I made your point, it is actually because I agree with you. The best examples I can show you of such actions are those of the Fourth World that I referred to or other similar actions made by other grass-root organized NGO's which I have been involved in through their support from international organizations. However, those actions against homelessness are to a great degree targeting families in extreme poverty and "without a roof" by multiple actions concerning not only getting them a "home", but also employment, health and education. All a mixture of urgencies and longer term support actions. Much despair and some success but also some of the most human and deeply touching activities which I have been engaged in.
  73. Brad,
    For me having enough time to dig deep, become a familiar and trusted face, and commit to the level of dedication required is the difficult. Alas, I am just a "weekend warrior" Also the emotional stamina that one needs for an in depth documentary of such a subject needs to be accounted for as well.
  74. Pace photos were below average at best.
    He run away from the his own post.
    If you are going to take photos of the homeless ,other, than the odd snap...engage with them.
    Empathy, relate....try walking the same path.
    Then, your photos might have a story to tell....not some hapless photo taken from a distance.
  75. Virtually all the great "concerned documentaries" that have appealed to me, all occurred with the photographer interacting with the people they were photographing, from Eugene Smith to Ellen Marks and beyond.
  76. How do you know if Adget talked to him or not. Maybe he slipped him a couple of franks to not move while he set up his camera. It doesn't make it any kind of interesting photograph just because Adget took it, beyond historical interest. Street photography and social documentary, though related are different to me. The very difference is most usually one of engagement with the subjects over a period of time. Philosophically sure, no "best" way. But the fact is, pictures of homeless people passed out in the street, just are typically boring.
  77. Barry, how do you know he did ?
    "Typically boring" for one, might not be for another.

    My main reason for reacting on the standard demand for making friends with homeless in order to make any shot of the subject is, that what I often see is more a documentation of the gained casual relationship between the photographer and the homeless guy, than anything that denounces homelessness. Just my personal appreciation on the subject of shooting street photography.
    I admire more what Cartier-Bresson brought home of shots after when he had fulfilled his wish of being invisible when shooting in streets.
    My own relationship with "clochards" in the streets around me is one of signs of recognition with a few and frequently giving a euro or ten, or a pair of boots in the winter. I would never shoot them, violating their privacy, knowing their stories of broken marriages, lost jobs, lost family relations and bad health.
  78. Anders,
    I agree one can take a powerful image of the homeless without being engaged with the particular subject. But there are plenty of those shots, and I think most people have seen them and thought "oh how tragic" and went on about their business. In order to create a body of work that could possibly initiate real change, it needs to create a connection between the humanity of the subject and viewer.
    Once people realize the difference between a homeless person and themselves is circumstances that can effect anyone of us, they are more likely to become motivated to help. None of us are immune from becoming homeless. To portray this one has to spend time getting to know the person, and gain their trust. If a photographer is up font with their subject about what they want to accomplish. the subject does not view this as an invasion of privacy, and opens up to the level they are comfortable. Just like anyone else would when asked to participate in a documentary.
  79. Steve I can assure you, that I know what you are arguing for, not least because i have been involved directly in such actions. What i'm suggestion is just to accept that there is not one single, or even less, one best way of approaching the question.
    The answer you give, and argue well for, fits like hand in glove with what , by change, is used in so many other street photography on these pages, whether it concerns shooting guys or exhibitionists or just ordinary people in streets. I'm not arguing against it, I'm just trying to convey the message that there are other approaches, and in some cases more successful approaches, to "social change" and indeed to street photography.
    I referred to Cartier-Bresson, who had no intention to interact or interfere with people in the streets, and yet he has shot come back with some of the great historical shots of such people and such streets.

    More concretely, as I think we all agree, social change, does not come about by one approach and tool only. Photography can help and provoke reactions, but other media are needed to communicate the complexity of homelessness. Writing, not least, but also some factual information is needed. There are 8-900.000 homeless people in the US for the moment, according to official statistics which only count what i registered. In Europe, the situation is not better.
    To individualize the problem, by personal stories like those you refer to, you surely bring an important message of humanity and compassion towards individuals, but you risk to loose the complexity and diversity of situations. It has been done numerous times despite the fact that, maybe, few have dehumanized homeless people. What might be more needed and more urgent is to highlight the conditions for homelessness to be combated and for homelessness not to occur.

    Another reason for our disagreements on the subject is that, at least in Europe individual actions and are not what is needed most, so our compassion for individual homeless people does not change much. At least it does not ensure "social change". Public actions and the actions of NGO's are what is in need of more resources. To argue for that, you need to get beyond the anecdotes of individuals in pictures and texts. I know, in the US, the situation is different and charities is what is aimed at.
  80. >>> To individualize the problem, by personal stories like those you refer to, you surely bring an important
    message of humanity and compassion towards individuals, but you risk to loose the complexity and
    diversity of situations.

    I've seen many photos of the "homeless." I have yet to see any (without accompanying story/narrative)
    that revealed anything about the complexities. I suspect many photographers feel uncomfortable talking to
    people living in that situation.
  81. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Look, this is really simple. If you think you have something to offer to improve things for the homeless, go to the organizations that work with the homeless. They know what is needed. They know what needs to be publicized. They know how to put out that publicity. They have media access. Go to the organizations and tell them what you can do. Then you may get some reward for helping out the world.
    As I said, it's simple. I've been photographing for one community organization for seven years. I shoot their events, I contribute labor and photography. I help with their social networking publicity. I just signed up with another organization with a terrific mission that helps low income entrepreneurs. I'm going to photograph their events. I assume that the photos will be used to raise money for their programs. I don't know or care if I will be credited, it's the same as any type of socially beneficial work. It's for them, not the photographer or any volunteer.
    If you really want to do what you say you want to do, skip the indiegogo thing and approach the people who know what to do. Then you won't end up with a pointless portfolio of photos of homeless people.
  82. Jeff, yes it is quit simple. That's why I started by referring to those, that have the experience like the Fourth World Movement, who also uses photographers in their campaigns and surely have proven they know what to do for social change. So if you want to help beyond your local organisations see here if you are interested.

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