It Ain't All Pizzas and Cream
July 25, 2012 11:44 AM   Subscribe

'Everyone Has a Name' Project Everyone has a name. And everyone has a story. This photo project is dedicated to promoting dignity and to enlightening society's view of the homeless. A project by Charlie O'Hay.
People sometimes ask how I convince the homeless to let me photograph them. Of course "the homeless" represents a large and diverse group, and some individuals in fact do not allow me to take their portrait. Others allow me to photo their hands or backs, but not their faces. Some have told me they're concerned about outstanding warrants, and I respect that. But even with those few exceptions, I have found street people to be generally receptive to a portrait and a few moments of conversation. Oddly, it's the working stiffs who give me the most trouble.
Charles O'Hay's blog of cynical, wry humor and blunt realities includes poems, stories of his life as a recovering alcoholic, a parent, an atheist and a poet, and happenstance meetings with people on the streets of Philadelphia over the years.
People sometimes ask me, "How do you talk to the homeless?" "With my voice," I say.
Some examples of portraits and short stories:
David - Imagine living on a cash job, week to week, no savings, and the job disappears. Then the apartment goes with it. Where would you go?
Bob - Bob wanted to see his portrait after I'd taken it. "It's been years since anyone's taken my picture," he said.
Ian and John - Ian told me to be sure to get his name on this image. I said, "That's the whole point of the project. To put names to the faces of the homeless."
Tommy - ... "I killed 57 gooks in Vietnam," ...
Joseph - ... I had given Joseph a buck and was about to walk away when he said, "Alcoholic." with a shrug. "Me too," I said, "15 years sober." ...
Gail - Gail's 26YO husband was diagnosed 9 months ago with Lymphoma. ...
This is Chelsea (NYC)

A portion of all profits from Charlie's book of poems, Far From Luck, will be donated to Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(Previous similar projects: Bob Arihood, Lee Jeffries, LA County, Church Under The Bridge, When I Came Home)
posted by jillithd (6 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Some decent writing on that blog.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:30 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Charlie's quite talented. I've been reading his wife's blog for some years, and she's a practicing Christian, albeit a very liberal one who has an almost UU bent. The interplay between the two of them, at least in the writing, makes for some pretty interesting stuff.
posted by Athene at 12:37 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The author posits that no one would ask "How do you talk to an auto mechanic?" But plenty of people have asked exactly that, and on AskMe, no less. What people mean when they ask that is - "how do I talk to X group in an educated manner that lets me relate to them and hopefully, not offend them?" But this guy already has a lot of that knowledge, and to mock people who ask that question is a bizarre way of insulting the people who lack the knowledge that he is trying to deliver.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 12:41 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I might have missed something, but I didn't see any mockery of people asking "how do you talk to an auto mechanic." Or if you mean the "How do you talk to the homeless?" question, I read that as pretty gentle admonishment directed specifically towards those of us who tend to view the homeless as a whole different species of human.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2012

Thanks for the post- now subscribing to both Charlie and his wife :)
posted by Isadorady at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

As mentioned above, here is Charlie's wife Cecily's blog.
posted by jillithd at 9:52 AM on July 27, 2012

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