I Photograph The Homeless By Becoming One Of Them
I’m inundated with emails on a daily basis. “What camera do you use?”, “How do you obtain the black background in your images?”, “Will you employ me as your assistant?” to quote but a few. The questions are varied, but all revolve around a central theme… they see the apparent “success” of my images and are determined to experience a piece of that for themselves. I don’t blame them. I was exactly the same seven years ago. My mind was awash with images. Revelling in art for the first time in my life. It was exciting, promised travel and adventure and who knows, maybe some success and notoriety. Looking back, I’d look for short cuts by asking other photographers, whose work I admired at the time, the very same questions I am now being asked. I was infatuated with the notion of being “a photographer” so wanted that “success” fast.
Looking back, none of that stuff mattered. Sure, technical ability is pretty fundamental to any vocation but it means nothing without passion. You can’t teach it. Life “happens” and it’s through those experiences that hopefully you come through the other side having learned something.
Love “happened” to me. Back then, that love was the motivation for everything I did. Running through the Vatican to buy a Rosary for her dying mother. Feeling her sense of faith and compassion for the less fortunate. Without knowing it, I took pieces from her. They remain with me to this day. So, now, when you see a Lee Jeffries image it’s not a document of the life of a homeless person. It’s much more than that. It’s a metaphysical testimony of humanity, faith and spirituality. It’s born from love and a connection to another human being. Her… and the homeless people I meet.
Everybody wants to be a photographer. Open your heart and you may just get your wish.
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