Recently I blogged about a new project that I am starting called $2 portraits. The idea is that I will offer $2 to anyone who asks me for money from now on in exchange for their portrait.

Today I met Jonathan. Jonathan was a soft spoken but friendly guy. When I asked him if I could take his portrait for $2, he told me that I could take his portrait for free.

Jonathan told me that recently he’d been featured on the Channel 11 news and seemed proud of this fact. He said that they came by the other day and interviewed him about what it was like to be out on the streets.

Jonathan has been in San Francisco for about a year. He came from Chicago Illinois before San Francisco. He said he likes it here better because it’s warmer. He also said that Illinois tended to have a lot more segregation. Not segregation in a legal sense he said but more just that white people and black people didn’t live in the same places there like they do here.

Jonathan said that he did not have much family left. He said his older brother recently died of diabetes. He said that he had one son who was in college.

While we were talking, he pointed out a plain clothes police officer to me who walked by. He said that the police know him and don’t mind him being there because he’s polite and not aggressive.

Be Sociable, Share!
Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. VeganCowboy says:

    Chicago actually suffers from Hypersegregation. It turns out out the socialigists didn’t feel segregation was a strong enough word and they had to come up with a new one. The TV version of This American Life did an excellent bit on Hypersegregation in Chicago I recomend it but it may cause you to lose a little faith in humanity.

  2. JeffH says:

    Excellent photo, very interesting story! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. dj paine says:

    dude, this new idea/series is BY FAR the best thing you are doing with your photography. one of the best things about this new project is your no frills facts that accompany the pictures. no opinions or biased politics, just the facts. love it.

  4. BenSpark says:

    Thank you for sharing Jonathan’s story. The portrait is very compelling as well. amazing eyes.

  5. PXLated says:

    Loving your $2 shots and stories!!!

  6. Weird. I always notice the opposite when I’m traveling. As much as I love SF, it always feels really segregated.

  7. Tom, it’s totally the stories that go along with these shots that make this project so special. I really enjoy hearing them. Hope to see a book at some point.

  8. mikkelina says:

    I think what I like about your project (other than the wonderful photos) is that you give us a small glimpse into the stories of these homeless people. I think we are all curious (at least I am) about why they are where they are, who they are…even if many of us do look at them as equal (yet out of luck) human beings, we are curious yet often too afraid to approach them and as these questions. Thank you.

  9. Dmdieu says:

    Wow, great photo. I love that you share their stories too.

  10. Wow. I just found your blog and really enjoyed this portrait and the story behind it.

    I look forward to looking at more of your photography and learning about your work.

  11. Keith says:

    This is awesome, Thomas!

  12. If you’re looking for stories? Big Jim Hearns on the corner of Eddy and Taylor.