Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Troubled Today

Troubled Today

Photo & Text Copyright 2008 Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved, including reproduction or republishing.

This could be in any American city, but it is here in Seattle, one of the west coast places reported to have coined the logging town term "Skid Road." He was ill but didn't want any assistance, lying next to the fence in a seldom used railway corridor along the ship canal's light industry and maritime business area.

15 comments:

Strangetastes said...

I am always ambivalent about how - or whether - to photograph such scenes. It is intrusive, voyeuristic or just documentation? My city has this, too. We all do. Did you speak to him and ask him if he needed help?

A good friend of mine is the leading Social Security disability lawyer in Seattle (that's also my area of practice). He's a photographer, too. Not long ago, he had a homeless, mentally ill client living in a damp encampment. My friend took some very moving pictures of the man and his situation in the hope of persuading the judge that no well person would live like this. Don;t know how the case turned out.

Kim said...

Strange tastes, Yes I did speak to him. I was concerned he might not be just sleeping off a bender but very ill. He had no belongings about and a very inadequate coat. About eight people passed him by as I was approaching. I do a lot of street shots of people in all kinds of situations. When they are so vulnerable and exposed, yes I feel both ambivilence and a compulsion to capture what I see. Its always how I feel when a compelling scene is in front of me.
-Kim

George Townboy said...

Kim ... awesome shot!

One of my hobbies, years ago, was taking pictures of people in similar situations. I was practically obsessed with it!

George Townboy said...

Oh, I meant to ask, how do you achieve this beautiful black and white effect?

Small City Scenes said...

How sad. If he doesn't want any help you cannot force him. Will a mission take him in? MB

Petrea said...

I struggle with such sights; I want to take the photo, don't want to violate a person's privacy, and am afraid to approach some people (though it looks like this guy wasn't capable of being dangerous). I think you did what you could. And the photo is terrific without invading the man's privacy.

Bibi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bibi said...

I'm always saddened to see people in this condition, especially in the US. Here in Serbia, there are a lot of displaced persons (the PC term I guess for refugees), who have lost everything. With them are the "regular" street people, who for one reason or another have no shelter. Serbia is a poorer country, at least for now. But in the US, as an American, I'm always distressed...but we know where our tax dollars are going...

Bibi
http://yankee-in-belgrade.blogspot.com/

Maria V said...

very distressing to see photos like this, glad i don't see this at all in my home town, not to say i don't feel compassion - used to see when I lvied in wellington where i was born.

Petrea said...

I get your point, Bibi. Yet we've been seeing more and more people living on the streets since the 1980s. I don't remember much before then. Before that there were "hobos" or "bums," but not many. Now the larger cities have thousands of homeless.

That's not to say this man is homeless. One never knows.

Nathalie said...

A very distressing picture. I'm glad you spoke to him Kim. This makes you not a voyeur for the sake of photography but someone who opens her eyes to the life of her city and cares about what goes on.

Is there an emergency number you can call if you want to report someone as needing assistance ?

Kim said...

George, Thanks. Re. black and white: my camera can shoot in either color or black and white.

MB, Yeah, gotta respect people's wishes. As you probably are aware, Seattle's citizens in general make a lot of collective provisions for people needing assistance and shelter, more so than in other cities where I've lived. There are many places to receive shelter. My husband used to work with a nonprofit here that assisted people transitioning to housing by helping them out with the security deposit required by landlords. Someone working still may not have the big chunk of change up front to qualify to move in to anything but a transient hotel. One of the clients who had been laid off and ended up on the street told him there is no reason anyone on the street in Seattle should go hungry as there is so much attention paid to providing meals. I've even heard of a group that goes out on freezing cold nights searching for folks out in the open to get them to emergency shelters to prevent death from exposure.

Petrea, Thanks for noticing I kept any identifying features out of the picture. In my mind he's sort of an "everyman." Could be me there just as well as him. I concur with your observations that the thousands on the street in every major city was not the norm before the 80s.

Too Chickenshit to Use Your Name, don't bother sniping with cynical comments you don't care to own up to.

Bibi, We don't like to think we have displaced people in America, but the lack of immediate action to assist the majority of people affected by Katrina really put the administration's true lack of concern for common people under the microscope. Almost two years out, and its not the government but basically many, many small groups of citizens using their vacation time to go down there at their own expense and do what they can to help rebuild with groups like Habitat. It's a sincere effort, but a drop in the bucket. When the richest, most able country on the planet won't take care of its own, there is a rotting corpse of corruption called a government running things and it needs to be dealt with.

Maria, Hania is very lucky!

Nathalie, Yes we have the famous 911 number to call when someone needs emergency medical care, and indigents may be seen at any hospital emergency room despite their inability to pay for services rendered, but no one can compel them to go. And there are numerous social assistance programs with licensed social workers. The problems are complex for most people chronicly on the street, with addictions and mental health issues being significant challenges.
-Kim

Petrea said...

Thanks, Kim.

To sort of add to your response to Bibi's comment: it's one thing when our citizens live on the streets out of choice, or if they refuse care. But in a nation as rich as this one, when people live on the streets due to mere poverty, that's a travesty.

Benjamin Madison said...

Many city dwellers simply don't "see" such people so it is important that photographers do. Photography can be a tool for social change as well as an art form. Bravo!

Jana said...

What a moving photo! THat was nice of you to talk to him and see if he needed help. I have an uncle who is homeless by choice and its very sad. Seeing that photo made me think of my uncle and wonder what city is in right now.