Frustration Of Being Ignored

Originally uploaded by shutter_se7en

After spending time at Tent City Sacramento, CA. I told myself I would never explore the homeless genre ever again. The reason being it was mentally exhausting, demanding and honestly just sad. So what brought me to explore this topic once more? I received an e-mail from the photo department stating that a design student was looking to collaborate with a doc student to produce images for an ad assignment for their class client, United Way. I saw this as a new challenge/assignment with a new deadline. I also saw this as a new opportunity to explore the problem of homelessness from a new perspective, as a serious social disease that must be continuously addressed until we find a solution.
I met Chuck this morning. I have seen him often kneeling with hands in prayer position, cup out front hoping for someone to give. I realized as we conversed, i had pulled his attention away from the people walking by. Keeping it short I asked him a few questions. Do most people ignore him? How does it feel to be invisible? Has he ever felt so angry at being ignored that he’s wanted to lash out at people? He told me he hated the feeling of being ignored, especially when all he wants is to be seen and heard. Chuck admitted that he has been tempted to lash out at people but it was useless. It would only bring the police. As I sat there with him documenting this moment. He truly was invisible. No way paid any attention to him, as soon as I aimed the camera in his direction people paid attention to the camera and were very careful to avoid my frame—going as far as to walk out into the street and traffic to avoid being photographed. This was first for me. Usually I can’t get people to move out of my frame. But now for some reason as I photographed this begging homeless person people aggressively avoided my frame.

As I sat there on street photographing Chuck, I realized how I could relate to Chuck. Working at Alcatraz Cruises photographing tourists before they boarded the ferry, I was blatantly ignored constantly. I wasn’t asking them for anything but to pose and smile. It cost nothing , yet people would walk around me ignore my hellos, smiles. I, like Chuck, was often tempted to lash out. It was a horrible feeling to be ignored. Especially when you’re just saying hi. All you want is to be noticed, have your hi returned, be recognized. Its an empty feeling when you don’t get it.

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