All Great Things . . .
I was shooting around the neighbourhood of Beasley one morning when I came upon this guy lying in front of a bank, of all things, at the corner of King and James Streets. I watched for the rise and fall of his abdomen, and it did, so I knew that he was still breathing without having to disturb him or risk my own safety to get a pulse. I almost named this image after that consideration; “Breathing”.
Sometimes when I do homeless photography, I’m able to talk to the subjects and get their stories right from their mouths. That’s important to me. Sometimes I sense it’s too dangerous with certain individuals and circumstances. Sometimes the subject is absolutely unintelligible, so I can’t even quote the person. This was a situation in which I felt certain that I wasn’t going to get him to tell me his story.
I turned my back on the sleeper and called the Hamilton Police Service to report the circumstance so that someone could pick him up and hopefully steer him toward the help he clearly needed. As I was talking to the dispatch officer, I looked back and the man was gone. No one else around saw which way he went either.
I’ve chosen to render all of the images in the Hammer Home collection as not just having as much black as possible but as much darkness as possible in the post-production stage. I’ve done this to emphasize or even exaggerate mood in the monochromatism of each picture; I expect that most people will associate most of these depictions with a sense of brooding, even in the upbeat images. This is an image in which I deliberately push the envelope with this technique. The figure lies in the shadow of the big corporate building while other citizens, who walked straight by him without the slightest pause, wait to cross James Street in brightness. The shaded man is there, perceptible yet imperceptible. It’s as though the darkened conditions makes it easier for us to pass him by and not notice that he’s suffering in silence. It makes the situation easier to write him off and not care about him. Just quickly step on by; we’re off to more pleasant circumstances. He had his chance, there’s nothing that we can do so just leave him to the gutters.