File:Helping the homeless.jpg

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This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It's at the north end of the "Filene's Basement" store on the corner, and it's a place where I've often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance...

With very rare exceptions, I haven't photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they're in a very defensive situation, and I don't want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right.

I don't know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thought about for some time...

What was particularly interesting was that they didn't dwell, didn't try to have a conversation with the young man; they gave him the food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him...

Note: this photo was published in a Jan 6, 2009 blog posting entitled "Six Lessons from a Wooden Boy: Lesson Three: Don't be a Social Media Jackass." It was also referenced (and possibly published) in a Jan 27, 2009 Swedish blog entitled "Firmy na celom svete prepustia 76-tisíc ľudí." And it was published in a May 4, 2009 blog titled "More on the .18 million for homeless prevention in Tacoma." It was also published in a May 18, 2009 blog titled "Helping the Homeless: To Do or Not To Do. That is the Question!" It was also published in an April 28, 2009 blog titled "Blog Sobre Mi Tiempo Devocional." I've also just discovered that it was published as a "related image" illustration on a Dec 6, 2008 blog titled More recently, it was published in an Aug 27, 2009 blog titled "Ideas for a New Marketing World: Day 36." And it was published in a Sep 2, 2009 blog titled "Eagle Scout Rehabs Homeless 'Mission House'." It was also published in a Sep 20 2009 blog titled "Dallas Outlaws Crimes of Compassion." And for reasons I don't understand, the photo was published as an illustration that I found on Sep 30, 2009 in a Boorah blog titled "Kitchen 2 Kitchen, Tacoma (even though it has nothing to do with Tacoma or restaurants)." It was also published in a Nov 22, 2009 blog titled "Keeping Gratitude in Thanksgiving."

Note: since this is the second most-viewed image in my Flickr archives, I decided to make some minor editing improvements on Aug 6, 2009. I used Apple's Aperture program to eliminate "hot spots" and "cold spots" in the photo, and also adjusted/decreased some of the shadows. Most people probably won't notice the difference...

Moving into 2010, the photo was published in a Feb 9, 2010 True/Slant blog titled "Should the homeless be arrested or rehabilitated?" And it was published in a Feb 10, 2010 blog titled "Doar à Deus é doar ao próximo." It was also published in a Mar 12, 2010 blog titled "Beck: Beware 'Social Justice Christians'." And it was published in a Mar 23, 2010 blog titled "“Homeless Count 2010″ now underway in Vancouver." It was also published in a May 26, 2010 French blog titled "Concours des blogs : Votez pour moi ! (ou pour les autres)." And it was also published in a Jun 21, 2010 blog titled "How To Advocate For The Homeless," as well as a Jun 25, 2010 blog titled "Language in the Clinician's Office." It was also published in a Jun 30, 2010 blog titled "Take a Photo of Someone Doing Good." And it was published in a Jul 28, 2010 blog by "homeless girl" title "Giving Just Food To Panhandlers Is Lazy, Self-centred And Predictable." It was also published in an Aug 30, 2010 blog titled "5 More Homeless Lent Credit Cards To See If They Give Them Back," and an Aug 29, 2010 blog titled "The Emmaus Center Homeless Shelter." It was also published in a Sep 2, 2010 blog titled "Would You Trust a Panhandler with your Credit Card?" and a Sep 15, 2010 blog titled "Helping the homeless requires compassion." And it was published in a Sep 29, 2010 blog titled "Nice Self Improvement Tv photos." And it was published in an Oct 27, 2010 blog titled "When Doing Good Is Bad." It was also published in a Nov 13, 2010 Gobal Debate blog titled "Oxford Round Five Motion," as well as a Nov 21, 2010 blog titled "Lastest 21 Tv Dallas News." I also discovered that it had been published in an Oct 15, 2010 blog titled "Gettin’ all eh??" It was also published in a Dec 21, 2010 blog titled "Q&A: How to convince my parents to get a snake?" And it was published in a Dec 27, 2010 blog titled "Over one million of America's students are homeless." It was also published in a Dec 30, 2010 blog titled "How Applying Behavior and Motivator Assessments Can Improve Your Life: Part 4."

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a blog titled "6 Myths That Get Us Stuck (Myth #5 - Self Help)." And for reasons I don't understand at all, it was published in an Apr 10, 2011 blog titled "Sunday Night Football Odds: Giants vs Eagles." It was also published as the 24th item in an undated (early Jun 2011) blog titled "25 Things To Do Before You Die." And it was published in a Jun 6, 2011 blog titled "Arrested for Feeding Homeless People." It was also published, in a cropped/sepia-toned form, as an illustration on the Lean On Me Outreach website. It was also published in a Jul 17, 2011 blog titled "Bad Credit? We Can Help!" And it was published in an Aug 19, 2011 posting of the "Federal Register - the daily journal of the United States government. It does not seem to be a "permalink," the photo may well have disappeared when you next click on this URL. The photo was also published in a Dec 24, 2011 blog titled "Home for the Holidays to assist homeless people of Boston."

This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me.

I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ...

The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, far more people who are not so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.

Source Helping the homeless
Author Ed Yourdon from New York City, USA
Other versions
Camera location40° 47′ 02.8″ N, 73° 58′ 46.68″ W Kartographer map based on OpenStreetMap.View all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap - Google Earthinfo


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Checked copyright icon.svg This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on December 30, 2011 by the administrator or reviewer File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske), who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the stated license on that date.

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