Today’s Walk: A Photo Free Friday

Not by choice, of course. The stories are always much more easily told with a good photo of the subject. Today just didn’t agree.

What I do here, whatever it may turn into, really isn’t easy. I don’t sneak photos of people or do this as ‘street photography’ to just post in a blog. It is much more personal than that. Most walks are a few hours, meeting numerous people and just talking, sitting and mostly listening. Before I ever take an image I ask permission. I get a release signed. I ensure they understand that they will be placed in public view. That is a truly difficult task as I try to ensure that none of this comes across as exploitive, rather as a message that we are all one in the same, just under very differing circumstances.

More often than not, the people I meet do not want a photo taken. This can be for numerous reasons; some may simply be embarrassed ad not want family or friends to see them in their current conditions. Some may be hiding from something or someone be it real or perceived.

Usually, I forego posting anything at all when there are no photos to tell the story. It’s a personal preference as I don’t really feel the story is told well without it. Today I chose to relay my journey even though no one would agree to a photograph. Below is why…..

Tis the season, right?

The mayor’s tree (as it says on the sign) is in place and decorated beautifully. The park area around the reflection pond and surrounding parks are usually a sitting area for a large number of homeless people.

Today, for the most part, it was quiet.

I walked for about 3 hours today, looking for friendly faces of those I had met in the area in the past. None were found. I asked the few people I did meet where everyone was, why the park was empty. I got the same answer from a dozen different people in different places.

The mayor doesn’t want them there.

Whether that is 100% true or not, I don’t know. It is easy to believe being that the place is decorated for all to see and maybe someone doesn’t want them around during this time. If it is true, it is saddening.

The people I met today?

One old man sitting on a bench along the bayou. No shoes and calloused feet. When asked one of the usual questions, ‘what could we really do to help those like you’; His response was that he was too old and had been out there too long to be helped. He thanked me for taking the time to sit with him for a few moments and wished me well. As I left he resumed staring at the bayou. No photo, he said no one wants to see him.

One Young lady with her 3 children. The youngest was probably two years of age. They had just left a service center that was offering a free lunch. Her husband left her 8 months ago with the house, the kids, and the bills. She ended up outside, with her family, a few months back. She didn’t have a clue how anyone could help and of course; no photos. I can understand the photo issue with children in tow; CPS may be on the hunt there-after. Before anyone hates on her, try to put yourself in her shoes.

The last was a young man, probably in his mid-twenties. He was willing to talk but didn’t want his picture taken. He said it was hard enough out there as it was and didn’t need anyone seeing or hearing what he really wanted to say. Can’t lay down to sleep before 11 PM without getting harassed or put in jail. Get run out of the parks if you sit too long. Get woke up at 7 AM where you can sleep and told to move. Get your shoes stolen if you happen to stay in a shelter (after lining up for an empty bed for hours if you want one). He went on; needless to say, you can tell that it is more difficult than most of us know.

Some trips are more disheartening than others. Today’s was one of them. It makes me wonder even more-so; what can one guy do? I still don’t know but will continue the journey.

Thank you all for taking it with me.