Chris Foley Photo
A rule to shoot by
As a steadfast and general rule, I do not shoot the homeless. While some people can pull this off very well, much of what I've seen is largely exploitative or just a cheap-and-easy shot. The only times I have gone there is when I've seen an opportunity to serve a larger narrative.
I'm currently working on a Santa Monica / Venice Beach project and part of this project involves exposing (get it?) the rigid dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots which, in communities such as this one, exist side by side one another every day in one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in America.
This shot, taken on June 1, 2017 in Venice CA speaks to the jovial celebration event being set up on the beach (note the lifeguard house painted up all Gilbert Baker style) with the contrast of the man sleeping late into the morning in his bag positioned in the foreground. Meanwhile the resident pedals past, signifying that life does indeed go on.
This was shot at 10am. I normally don't get into Venice until mid-afternoon and I'd never seen the town before it really wakes up and starts to shake up. I was deeply saddened to see the sheer number of folks sleeping on the boardwalk. There were several dozens of them spread out along the beach and the boardwalk with their belongings all stowed against buildings and stashed beneath palm trees while they slept. They're still there and still visible later in the day (when the tourists have come out) but it's something very different to observe them like this.
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