How do you react when you encounter a homeless person on the street?  If you’re like most, you pretend they don’t exist.  Sure, you’ll look at them, but only through the corners of your eyes while they’re not looking at you.  Will you give even a cursory response if the person speaks to you?  Does your pace increase ever so slightly as you pass them?  Does their very presence make you feel uncomfortable?

Not you?  Right.  Well as an inhabitant of greater LA, which has a palpably large homeless population, I’ve noticed that many of us avoid acknowledgement or contact with the destitute/homeless.  I often question whether this response is due to fear of violence, repugnance, or the realization that “there but for the grace of God go I”?


Since this is effectively a one sided conversation, your answers to the questions above will likely go unheard…at least by me.  Like you though, I’ve had to personally answer these questions. Let’s just say that with camera in hand, I strive to encounter & photograph people from all strata and situations.  However, as a street photographer, there continues to be one question on my mind when I encounter the homeless…Should I take a photo of this person?

Know that for me there’s a difference between “Should I…?” and “Will I…?”  The answer to “Will I…?” is “Yes.  I will… and do.”  If I see an (IMHO) interesting situation or person, I try to release the shutter without hesitation regardless of who is in the image.  That’s the nature of street photography.   It’s only after I take the image that “Should I…?” comes into play.   It all revolves around whether the image is art, reportage, or exploitation?  What do you think?  My uncomfortable conclusion…all of the above.


© 2014-2016 Reginald Foster, All Rights Reserved. All Photos and text are the property of Reginald Foster and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Reginald Foster is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Reginald Foster and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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