This story is about a homeless Vietnam Vet that I encountered while on a street photography outing. I recently had some dental work done that side lined me for a couple weeks which seemed like an eternity. This was the first weekend where I felt like I might be able to do a little shooting so I set off around noon to do some street photography. The fun thing about street photography is that it’s a really personal experience. It’s all about what you find interesting, freestyle if you will. Now depending on where you are shooting, it’s not uncommon to come across some interesting and yes sketchy people. My rule is that you have to be realistic and err on the side of safety when approaching strangers, especially the homeless. While some of the homeless are just normal everyday people who happen to be down on their luck, some have real mental problems and can be unpredictable or even violent.
With this rule firmly in place I approached a homeless man who was camped out under an overpass. I struck up a conversation with the man, his name is George. He proceeded to tell me the story of his life. He has been living on the street for about 20 years. For the last 6 months he has been staying under this over pass. According to him, he is a Vietnam veteran with 2 children that he no longer sees. He has liver problems from the years of alcohol abuse, back problems and a bad hip. I spent about an hour talking to George, he just seemed happy to have someone to talk to. After George finished telling me his life’s story, I asked if I could take a few pictures of him. People are always more willing to allow you into their world if you actually take the time and talk to them. You never know what you are going to find when you are doing street photography but every now and then you get a few shots that touch you on an emotional level, this was one of those days for me. Good night George, where ever you are.