Sharon, Eddie and Anonymous

SharonEddieAnonymous

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.

Sharon

I met Sharon on Geary Street at Mason. Sharon asked me if she could have some money to get something to eat. I told her about my $2 portrait project and she agreed to pose. Sharon said that she was born and raised in San Francisco. She said she had two adult children in their 30s. I asked her what they were up to and she said she didn’t know. She said that they didn’t care about mother.

Sharon said that she likes music. She said that she likes all kinds of music except rap.

I asked Sharon what the best thing that had ever happened to her was and she told me that once someone gave her $140 on the street.

Eddie

I ran into Eddie on Market at Hyde Street. Eddie was wearing an Oakland A’s hat but said that he is more of a Raiders fan than A’s. Eddie’s from Oakland but is now living on the streets in San Francisco. He said he panhandles around Market Street during the day and then down by the Theater District on Geary Street at night.

Eddie’s lived all over the place. He said he was a beach bum in Santa Monica and talked a lot about a year that he lived in Las Vegas. Eddie said that when he was living in Las Vegas that a woman let him live in her room with her at Harrah’s which he really loved. He said he was eating $100 oyster plates at Harrahs. Eddie said that the woman had him get all painted up and jump out of a birthday cake for her friend.

Eddie talked pretty much nonstop and had a seemingly endless supply of stories. I had to get going home otherwise I could have sat and listened to him for quite a bit longer.

Eddie talked about the Philadelphia Eagles. He told me that they used to have a court and a judge at the Eagle’s stadium to deal with unruly spectators.

Eddie told me he’s only been to one baseball game ever. It was an Oakland A’s game but he couldn’t remember who they played or who won.

Anonymous

I wasn’t quite sure how to title this portrait. I met this gentleman on Geary Street at about Leavenworth. He told me that he was in a lot of pain and really really really needed money badly. I told him about my $2 portrait project and he said he’d pose for $5. After I told him all of the portraits were $2 he asked for $3. After that he agreed to pose for $2. When I asked him for his name he said "let’s just keep it how it is for now, I don’t want to get into that, I’m all about business, let’s just take the portrait and get on with it."

After I took this gentleman’s portrait I asked him what the best thing that had ever happened to him was. He said nothing. He said nothing good has ever happened to him. He asked me what the best thing that had ever happened to me was and I told him about both my family and my photography. It was at this point that he seemed to take a big interest in my photography. He followed me around for a bit more pointing out buildings that he thought I should take pictures of. After a few minutes of this he slipped down Hyde street and was gone.

This is my first $2 portrait without a name.

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  1. Andrew A says:

    I’m finding this $2 portrait series pretty powerful. Interesting – both visually and in terms of the stories, and thought-provoking.

  2. Excellent idea for a series. I’m looking forward to your updates.

    Rosh
    http://www.newmediaphotographer.com

  3. Tony says:

    Thomas,
    I always look forward to new photos from you and seeing what you “like” on flickr. But every time I see these 2 dollar portrait stories, I take the time to read the stories of the people behind the photo. They are usually fascinating, interesting, and at the same time somewhat saddening. It does force me to be thankful for what I have and it definitely makes me want to show more compassion for people that approach me on the streets asking for a “little help”. Keep up the good work!
    Tony (techsavvyguru)

  4. Shawn G. says:

    I think this is a great project and I think you will make a lot of people’s day just by talking to them and taking some time to get to know them. I’m looking forward to reading a lot more of these.

  5. emon says:

    That’s a very good concept. I saw a piece on TV about this guy who set up his camera on the street and gave $10 to anyone who’d pose for him. He had people lined up around the block. Can’t recall his name.

    Re: anonymous. Maybe someone will recognize him and tell you his name.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Excellent set in your series. I like the development in the Q&A; you are having with subjects. You report them fairly matter-of-fact, but I can tell you are gaining from the dialog.

    I agree with Tony. Though the portrait quality always makes me stop and take a look, the concept of the series and the responses to your questions have me taking time to read the entire post.

  7. Sean says:

    I am loving this whole series of $2 portraits and the stories behind the photos. I only wish that I thought of it first.

    Please tell us that you’re starting a Flickr group for other photographers to participate around the world. There are a bazillion stories out there to tell.

  8. Kelly Branan says:

    Wow, these are fantastic. I love how you are able to make these people human again. Thank you.

  9. A great project. I actually stopped to read their stories. Very moving.

  10. Lech says:

    I stopped by for the pictures, but I’m starting to enjoy the stories just as much!