Faces of the Homeless

In partnership with Portland’s Operation Nightwatch organization we organized a photo shoot for the homeless guests at the Downtown and SE shelters.  I hastily pulled together a makeshift studio, packed up the gear and headed downtown with my wife Sue and younger son Jon.  I wasn’t sure how this would go over but I trust Director, Gary Davis’ judgment, he knows the homeless community intimately.

Perhaps as expected there was a fair amount of curiosity from the guests as we set up but at first little to no demand.  We had already decided to provide a full service, giving the guests a packet of their pictures, printed, cut and ready to mail to relatives and share with friends.  Gary was also able to provide Xmas cards and stamps and so we were set and as soon as the first pictures started circulating something amazing happened.

The pictures created a lot of interest and we were off and running.  Gary had also provided props in the shape of hats, scarves, etc which added to the fun and the excitement across the room rose quickly.  I have to say I love taking pictures when the subjects are into it and these folks totally got into it!  I love the pictures of the couples with their cowboy hats.  We even had a couple of jugglers who wanted pictures of them in the act.  Who would have thought we’d have cowboys, cowgirls, jugglers, improv artists, impersonators, in addition to ordinary folks like me!

Gary had been hoping the photo shoot would increase the guests self-esteem and it certainly did.  When folks saw their pictures, concerns about their looks vanished and were replaced with smiles and pride.  These were pictures they wanted to show off!

I learned an important lesson, the simple things in life are so precious.  These folks didn’t need an expensive gift, set of clothes, make up etc to feel good about themselves.  Having a nice picture of themselves was priceless.  🙂

I hope you enjoy some of the pictures in the collage and I wish you a very happy Xmas!


Faces of the Homeless

10 thoughts

  1. Andy ~ I am deeply touched by you and your family’s generosity. As our friend Jorge says, “You ‘see’ people.” Such a valuable gift. Happiest of seasons to you! In gratitude, rlb

  2. Andy,
    What a great idea. I am so glad to have met you. You are an inspiration to me by the wonderful good you do. All the best and much happiness to you and your family.
    Happy holidays.
    Glenda from Omo valley trip.

  3. Andy – You are an amazing guy, of great sensitivity, and very generous. Thank you for what you do in the community. Your contribution speaks to the essence of the Christmas spirit.

    May you and your family also share in the blessings of the season.

    • Hi Wally, thank you for your kind words, I am fortunate to be in a situation to be able to make a small contribution. Getting to know many of these people has been a very rewarding experience. Wishing you and Gail a very happy Xmas!

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