Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Archive for October, 2008

Studs Terkel Dies…

Posted by Mike on October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel was one of the great story tellers of our time (or any time). I think he easily rivals Mark Twain.

Mr. Terkel died on Halloween in 2008. I was thinking of him the previous week when I was working on a story about homeless people in Seattle. The reason I was thinking of him was all the people I was meeting in shelters had such compelling stories. There is practically a book in every one of them.

It’s tough being homeless in Seattle. The weather is bad and the city and the cops are looking for every opportunity to steal your stuff and send it to the trash.

Literally, this last fall, churches were giving people sleeping bags and the cops were taking them and putting them in the trash, arresting the people, and releasing them with nothing and no where to go.

90 (that we know about) homeless people died or were murdered on the streets of Seattle in 2007.

Here are 3 people I met in shelters who allowed me to photograph them as they participated in one of the most difficult situations a person¬† might find themselves in… no place to live.

This particular place has 220 places for you to sleep on the floor. Volunteers bring food everyday but sometimes it runs out. You can’t come before 4:30 pm and you have to leave by 8:00. Life sucks at this level.

Shelter JoeJoe is a pro. He knows the ropes… and brings a book, gets there early, and calmly settles in.

shelter johnJohn is a disabled veteran. He gets some limited amount of money to live on. But it wasn’t enough to live in Alaska (his first choice). I met him in a Seattle shelter while he was waiting to save enough money to move to Billings, Montana. He had arranged a place there which he could afford. I was kidding John about his eating habits. There used to be a restaurant supply company called Pacific Desserts here in Seattle. Their motto was “…life is short. Eat Dessert First!…” John was eating his dessert first.

shelter RandyThis man used to be a photographer. He developed a bad addiction, sold his cameras to buy “stuff”, and slipped into the twilight zone of being homeless.

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Street Photography

Posted by Mike on October 20, 2008

I have never been really great at just walking up to people and getting them to agree to a photo… I’m OK at it but not as good as some others….

Bo helped me out… he was game for anything when I met him and gave me a 20 minute performance. So I gave him a portrait of a man who may not be the same guy he sees in the mirror, if you know what I mean.


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