There are people we see every day, but don’t really notice. They lounge on sidewalks, dash down alleys, prowl abandoned houses and sleep under bridges. They hide during the day and emerge only at night. Ghostlike entities who suddenly appear asking for spare change, or step from the shadows on a deserted street causing fear and alarm. But they are people like any others. Each one has a name and each one has a story. Thanks to a handful of street photographers, these people are being made visible, being given back their voice, and having their stories told.
In 2012, Arnade walked away from a successful career on Wall Street to focus on his photography, specifically of the addicts and prostitutes in the Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point. Arnade has taken the time to get to know the people he shoots, many of them becoming friends. He provides not only a unique look at a life most of us will never know, but also gives his subjects a voice. The stories he tells of love and loss and pain are relatable to anyone. The difference between someone hustling on the streets and the person sitting in a warm home reading this is a matter of luck and circumstance. We should view them with compassion, not scorn.
Arnade has been written up in numerous publications and websites. His work can be viewed at http://arnade.tumblr.com/
Charlie O’Hay – Everyone Has a Name Project
Charlie O’Hay, a poet and photographer from Philly, is no stranger to hard times. He openly talks about his days as a drunk, losing jobs, friends and family because of his addiction. He’s sober today, but his experience helped instill in him a compassion for the people whose lives go off the rails. It could have just as easily been him. Charlie takes time to get to know the people living on the streets of the city. He helps them out with socks and gloves and gift cards that let them get a hot meal. But more than that, he gives them back their dignity and identity. Life on the street is not easy and some times it’s downright deadly, but even in the best of times people look down on the homeless as something less than human. O’Hay puts a name to those faces that we pass every day on the way to work or home. And in many cases he provides their story, often revisiting them over time to see how they are getting by.
See more of his work at Everyone Has a Name.
Jeffrey Stockbridge – Kensington Blues
In 2008, Philadelphia area photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge began exploring Philadelphia’s Kensington Ave., a depressed area known for easy drugs, prostitution and squalor. Much of the street is perpetually in the shadows of the elevated Market Frankford train line, adding to the gloom and the feelings of desolation. Jeffrey took time to not only meet the addicts and prostitutes along the street, but to also meet the people who are just trying to live their regular lives in an area that has been going to hell for years. Through pictures, interviews and journal entries from his subjects, Stockbridge provides a look into the struggle just to stay alive and stay sane when your world is falling apart. We learn how people have fallen to where they are, and what their hopes and dream for the future may be. We learn about trying to raise kids in a crime infested neighborhood that most people would rather ignore than deal with. There is both horror and hope, happy endings and sad, as people just try to make it through one more day.
More of Jeffrey’s work can be see at Kensington Blues.