I didn’t know that taking portraits of the homeless was a project that I wanted to undertake until I met Denise on the streets of Las Vegas. I was taking a picture of something in the opposite direction when I heard her say, “Why don’t you take my picture?”
I turned my head and saw a lady pushing a shopping cart, with a beer in hand, and a cigarette in her mouth. I said, “sure” and walked towards her.
While taking a few photos, she shared slices of her life with me: her childhood, her time in jail, her yearning to visit her sister in the hospital who is dying of leukemia, and the denial of visits by hospital staff because of her current state of being a “bag lady”.
At the end of our talk, she pointed towards a freeway underpass and said, “Next time you’re in town find me under that bridge over there. Hopefully I’ll have made enough money to buy you a tripod, a flash, and a printer so that you can print out all of your photos.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, as I was moved by her kindness. That’s when I knew that I had to take portraits of the homeless; to present them as humans with their own personal stories, hopes, dreams, and struggles. I have been working on this project for almost 2 years.