What a character… to be continued
Had the humbling experience today of going to the May cheese fair with a homeless man of my acquaintance. I’ve long tried to arrange a time when we could take some pictures and he suggested that I go to the fair with him and there would be lot of free food and a good atmosphere. I looked out of my window at 2.30pm and saw that he was standing outside the bike shop across the street as arranged.
He told me that he had lots of friends there and indeed many of the stall holders greeted him. He had been a radio and television repair man when he had been working but was now retired. His pension amounts to about 150 dollars per month and he has no fixed home as his sister threw him out. A neighbour in the street lets him sleep at her house but during the day he can be seen around Budapest, riding the trams and buses. He has a white stick as he is now partially sighted and has a little difficulty walking. He always carried his medicines with him in case of a malaise. I was startled when suddenly this man who has so little gave a coin to a street performer then gleefully walked about the fair exclaiming how great it all was. He knows the dates of all the fairs – from Easter to Christmas and makes sure he goes. I admired his strategy for seeking out the
bright side of life and for his lack of any sort of self pity.
I had started working on an album of street portraits when I came across a wonderful album by Harvey Wang called “Flophouse, life in the Bowery” which inspired me further to go back to the people I’ve photographed and get them to say something about themselves. http://www.amazon.com/Flophouse-Life-Bowery-David-Isay/dp/0375503226
Feri has an amazing face. I’ve photographed him a few times over the last year. You can see the progression his attitude towards me in the pictures. He used to work as a coal delivery man but ill health in recent years means he is semi-homeless and unemployed. He’s generally sitting on a step in a doorway when the weather is good. I was with an artist friend when we saw Feri in the street. My friend invited him to model for a portrait. Feri was pleased to get paid for sitting in a warm room for a few hours. I wonder what he was thinking.
I was in Vilnius in June 2012 for a job and photographed this homeless man on the street. A year later when I knew I would be going to Lithuania again I printed out the picture, rolled it up and had it in my bag in case I came across the man again. When I did, I asked a passer by to take this picure with my phone.