The image today is one from another series category submission for the Portland Squared event this past weekend focused on homeless. The five shots were quickly rejected by the judges, and I am not exactly sure why. From their brief comments I gather that like many subjects in Portland, the theme of homelessness is overdone. But of all my submissions, the speed at which they were dismissed made me sad.
Perhaps the quality really was far below the bar of what they are used to seeing, and I can accept that. But I also wonder whether their reaction – in some small way – was similar to my own reaction. The homeless mirror vulnerable parts of myself that fear the unpredictability of life.
When I went back to the five images after the event I realized my post-processing could have been much improved! With only 24 hours to both shoot and edit, I had not spent enough time with the photos to really process them in a heartfelt way. So I went back and redid them all. Instead of strait color shots as I submitted for the judging, I played significantly with color, exposure and contrast to alter the images as a group and make them more align with how I felt at the time I took them. Now I am much happier with the final product.
MY 3 REMAINING IMAGES
Last year a day was dedicated to counting the homeless in Portland and the results indicated there were a total of 2,869 literally homeless. Most of these folks (1,895) slept outside, in cars, or abandoned buildings. Another 974 were more fortunate and spent the night in one of the emergency shelters. Included in the total count were 474 families with 253 children, and 34 kids without parents.
I know for me, statistics of problems like homelessness sadly go in one ear and out the other. There is so much pain in the world that to function, I simply cannot allow the statistic’s on human suffering to really penetrate my soul in any meaningful way. This of course is why a picture is worth a thousand words (or statistics)! Even more, my conversations with the women in these images made them real. No longer were they numbers, but humans with stories to share. Their pain is my pain. Their aloneness is mine also. Together, we mirror each other.