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© © 2017, John Crosley/Crosley Trust, All Rights Reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder

'Composition With Homeless Shopping Cart'


Software: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 (Windows)


© © 2017, John Crosley/Crosley Trust, All Rights Reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder

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It happens to those who slip through the cracks, a missed mortgage payment series

and foreclosure,, a sickness or accident that causes house payments to be late,

maybe a bout with depression or mental illness, rental payments that couldn't be

made, but however, one day, a person with a home ends up as a person with no

home, and the standard throughout America has many ending up at first with the

possessions they can save after eviction in a shopping cart before they're often

stolen. Your ratings, critiques, and observations are invited and most welcome. If

you rate or critique harshly, or wish to make a remark, please submit a helpful and

constructive comment; please share your photographic knowledge to help improve

my photography. Thanks! Enjoy! john

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Hi John,

What I like the most about this photo is her loneliness,

Cars are driving by, nobody cares...

Looks like people in cars are separated from real life problems,

Wide angle view helps a lot ,

Great photo,











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I have to agree with ZT, this image does present a feeling of lonesomeness. Fascinating how her entire possessions is in the cart. I wonder how soon a certain reviewer will weigh in on this subject and voice his displeasure for you photographing this. I hope it avoids you. 

Well done documentary image 

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These are folks whose plight should be made more and more visible. It is a failure of our society that people have to live this way. There are many reasons, mostly not of their own making. It is too easy when they are kept out of sight, out of mind. Keep up the good journalism (as you always have and do!)

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ZT,  I'm glad this photo has scored well with you and made its social-economic 'point'.


It's a woman with a shopping cart and all her possessions loaded in it just exiting traffic from a VERY WIDE intersection with cars, etc (see bus in background) roaring by).


As I recall, I was in the front of a bus at a stop, the wheelchair ramp was extended, so I took this from the to of the ramp, hence its slight elevation and its full view of traffic and the intersection.  Then, the door closed, we moved on, and I continued my query of the driver about directions.  Quick as a wink. 


But when I saw this photo on review, I was attracted to it not for the 'subject matter' for I can have as many photos of women with shopping carts and possessions as I want, but for the composition.


It's one thing to make a 'documentary' photo, but to make one that people will look at and say 'that's well done' is quite another.


Think of the compositional elements, which also do very well in color, with the rectangular metal plate, foreground, with traction marks, being bright yellow, and her possessions also being very colorful.  It's the 'same photo' in color, but takes on a different flavor.


I'll address the compositional elements in further replies -- things which make you not raise your arms in horror, I think, and say, 'he exploited a poor woman just to be taking a photo of a poor woman and solely to make a documentary and/or exploitive photo.'


For that is not why it's shown (solely).


Thanks for the very nice compliment; I think I know why it's worthy of a compliment instead of a scolding, and I'll address that.


Best and kindest regards.




John (Crosley)

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I think the 'message' from this photo is far more important than the technical aspects, but if technical aspects and/or composition were lacking, I think you would have dismissed it out of hand as exploitive, just as you feared another would have.


Let's discuss why it was pulled from the tens of thousands of my captures -- and not for a documentary message of which I have so many, but for the message AND the composition.


A strong device in a photo is the 'C' curve, a close relative to the 'S' curve.  Here the curbline serves that purpose.


Moreover, it's not just a curbline, but it's set at the beginning and the end (with no or minimal cropping, to equal distances from frame's edges.


The metal plate just touches the bottom of the frame --exactly.  I forgot if that's from cropping, but I think not.


I think it's natural.


Moreover the metal plate (bright yellow in the color version) is rectangular, as roughly is her shopping cart, so there are two end to end 'diamond' shapes moving in the cirection of the center/center-right of the frame's bottom adding an element of dynamism to the shot, just as a 'C' curve does so naturally.


And the two directional elements cross, leading your eye around the frame, and as we know, when the eye lingers, a photo is generally considered more successful.


And, the subject itself s in my opinion view-worthy.  This woman is in the first stages of homelessness; she still has her possessions.  They are with her in the shopping cart, which hinders her movements, but provides her something to sleep on.


Sooner or later, someone will steal them. Their presence also prevents her from storing them.  Where does one 'store' a shopping cart full of crap?  Answer:  other homeless people will pick the cart dry sooner or later if parked without her and in any case, she doesn't own the cart and what's left will be 'garbage' or 'rubbish' as the British English speakers say.


Sooner or later, she'll either progress and live with someone, hopefully, or become a full-time street denizen without possessions, shopping cart or hope at all, destined probably for bad health and probably a very early death.


I've seen it thousands of times.


Hanging onto one's possessions is the early stage of homelessness and living on the street, and unless remedied by a free room someplace, anyplace, the next stage is deterioration and sooner rather than later, bad health followed by death, particularly if bad mental health/and/or alcoholism is involved.


She's an interesting subject because she has ALL her worldly possessions spilling out of the cart, AND she's just negotiated that WIDE intersection with traffic whizzing by, otherwise I wouldn't have taken the photo, and wouldn't have displayed it unless it had certain special compositional features that made it attractive to me (and I hope you).


I didn't comment until now in hopes someone would do so themselves.


With my very best wishes as our hopes for a warmer season progresses.




John (Crosley)

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Hi you two,


Our eyes too often are averted when we such scenes, and the challenge to the photographer is to 'un-avert' them.


One way is to find the subject, though destitute, in an interesting situation, here having just crossed a wide, dangerous intersection, with all her belongings spilling out of her shopping cart. 


Score one for making the otherwise trite into something 'interesting' and not being just another shot of a person on 'skid road'.  She's far from 'skid road' as we can tell, and she's even in your living room -- I've brought her there.  


Besides finding and displaying an interesting subject from a scene we often normally avert our eyes from (and often make morel judgments about), I have been able fortunately to load this photo with what I consider good photo composition devices.  


In so doing I hope the photographer in you is pleased, and thus I hope this image is elevated to 'art' rather than exploitation.


I sometimes take photos of society's less fortunate, on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific, when I can on the street, in part because often being often slow moving such individuals are capable of being center of good composition.


But also they are too often ignored by society.  


I've been quite rich and very, very poor.


(Not billionaire rich -- though if one looked at my world travel one might assume from the past when I was in my '40s that I 'lived the life', but I learned how to do it 'on the cheap.'


I'm a gold flyer on two airlines alliances and have been to 72 countries, mostly unphotographed until 12 years ago (sadly).  


I'd go to Australia for dinner and scuba diving -- and make a profit on miles in doing so - a literal dream come true that is something some day I may write about -- hitherto a secret)


But I've also been poor, dirt poor.  


I know the feeling, and how it is to live poor, now knowing where the next meal will come from and how to budget two dollars for one day. (A fortune in some countries!)


I have not forgot.


But there was no transformative element in being poor; I never really changed however much my eyes were opened up when I saw some things up close and experienced them.


I was lucky enough to have a world class education and a good mind, and those two will serve a person well in most circumstances, and my experiences in life have been literally 'unbelievable'.  Fortunately, I've no weakness for drugs and alcohol.


If I tell others stories from my life, I have to keep reminding the listener that 'it's true, all of it' - 'challenge me, because I lived it'.


It's been an improbable life -- far more than the one I left after almost two decades of practicing law in Silicon Valley when I wore a power suit every day and other power clothes, drove one of two BMWs, called the Steve Jobs and other high-tech zillionaires my neighbors, had a VERY comfortable living, but also very enervating and dull.


Now, I can say I've lived.


Because I've experienced far more life than any one person usually has the opportunity to say 'I've done it, and i've lived it'.


I won't be singing that song made famous by the famous female singer who lamented 'Is That ALL There Is' when it's my turn.


After all, I got you to look (not turn away) from a photo of what usually is a trite subject, and made it a 'composition' that is 'worthy' rather than exploitation.


That is always my goal.  The rest ends up on hard drives never to be seen by others).


Thank you both so much for your continuing commentary


Best wishes for a prosperous and happy New Year!




John (Crosley)



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