About: THE VANCITY INVISIBLES
The last known speculative figures show 2,623 homeless people recorded in in Vancouver in 2011. We live in one of Canada's most expensive cities, and homelessness continues to be a major issue, despite the Mayor's pledge to completely eradicate homelessness by 2015.
This sadly, doesn't seem likely or possible. Even families and individuals who hold jobs can find themselves homeless, without a place they can afford to live.Those of us with loving family members who would take us in were we to hit hard times, face an illness or battle an addiction are the lucky ones. Many people don't have any family left to help them, or have family members who are economically challenged as well and unable to help them, or simply uncaring. Some have no choice but to sleep outdoors each night, directly on the street, beneath an overpass or under whatever shelter they can find. Others couch surf, live in cars, or stay in crowded temporary shelters.
I began this project in 2012. The first homeless gentleman I interviewed and photographed was John Anderson, who I passed almost every day outside of the Granville Sky train station in downtown Vancouver. After a number of conversations, I approached him with the idea of collaborating on a photographic project. Happily, he was interested, and agreed.
Over the course of approximately a 2 month period, I photographed John with 35mm black and white film, and also provided him with a disposable camera to document his own life. I felt it would be presumptuous of me to spend a relatively short period of time with him and assume that I could accurately represent the world through his eyes, so it became important to me to contrast my view ( the public's view in essence) of his existence, with his own view of his life.
Additionally, I verbally interviewed him. I later scanned the negatives and transferred the work into a digital format. I transcribed some of his most powerful statements from our interview and conversations, and layered his words onto the photographs.
The second homeless gentleman I have photographed thus far, for what is going to be an ongoing and long term project for me is Alan Eckardt. I first noticed Alan around Christmas time in the parking lot of my local Real Canadian Superstore where I do most of my grocery shopping. He stood out to me as I remember thinking he looked a bit like Santa Claus with his white beard! We struck up a conversation... I would frequently see and talk with Alan. Eventually, I asked him if he would be willing to participate in this photographic project.
I was pleased that he was interested. Again, over the course of approximately a 3 month period, I interviewed Alan a few times, and also photographed him. This time around, I chose to create the images digitally from the onset. I also decided to ask Alan to write down his answers to my questions. I felt that actually seeing his handwriting would be more personal and powerful.
It is important to me that this project unfolds in an un-rushed manner. I want to take the time to get to know my subjects instead of quickly snapping a few photographs and moving on to the next person. While there is some meaningful and well executed photography out there to be found on the subject of homelessness, what I find lacking in many cases is depth, and a real personal connection between photographer and subject.
Through pursuing this photographic investigation, I have gained more than a glimpse of the experiences that the homeless endure on a daily basis . I hope to share these experiences with others and to put forth faces and names to the many " invisibles" in our society. These are human stories, of hardship and triumph. Despite the many difficult challenges they face, what sticks with me thus far, as I move forward with this project, is the incredible resilience, tenacity and resourcefulness of the human spirit, and of those living on the periphery of "normal" society.
To view the images associated with this project, please click on the following link:
or click on the pop- up menu under "WORKS" on the bottom of the home page.