I came across this man at a market last weekend. He was just sitting there, and something about him just really struck me. He had an air of lostness about him…his clothes were dirty and unkempt, and he looked as if he had nowhere to go.
I stopped beside him and looked at my husband and said, “I want to photograph this man.” There was just something about him! I was a little unsure, as I don’t ever want to take advantage of people, especially vulnerable people, and as he did look homeless, I was very sure I wanted to ask him for his permission, not just “sneak” a shot. We approached him and asked if he would mind if I photographed him. He was very sweet and had an air of child-likeness about him. He very sweetly agreed to be photographed and so I shot a few frames. We thanked him and moved on.
It was an interesting, thought provoking interaction. Was there something more we could have done for him? Should I have given him money for photographing him? Sometimes there are tough questions that go along with photography. At the very least I feel like we offered him a sense of dignity by interacting with him, treating him as a real person, looking him in the eyes, conversing with him, and by giving him a choice of whether or not to be photographed.
Was it enough? I don’t know.