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A lonely road

Beggar at end of I-93 ramp in Chinatown

Phil photographed a man waiting at the bottom of the I-93 ramp into Chinatown, waiting for cars to seek money from the other day.

Copyright Phil. Posted in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.

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Should be a cover to a Boston movie.

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Captured at a good time, hopefully he/she can stay warm

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Hopefully, Phil gave him a couple of bucks--as a courtesy--before capitalizing on his image.

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Capitalizing implies that he made money from the photo. I don't think that is the case if he sent it to the UHub photo pool.

In any case it is a reminder that many of our year-end traditions are rooted in the idea that we need to check up on and look out for each other throughout the winter.

http://nechv.org/
http://www.pinestreetinn.org/donate
http://www.rosiesplace.org/give
http://www.gbfb.org/how-to-help/donate.php

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Those are great resources and your point about the implication of "capitalizing" is well taken, although I might suggest that receiving publicity or other non-monetary gain might be within the meaning of the word. In any event, it is a good photo but I'm just very cynical.

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I agree very much with @bannedinboston. The thought of someone fetishizing this man's experience into an aesthetic moment with his dslr, running off and posting it online, is at least distasteful and at worst unethical. It would be different if it was part of a sustained project to examine the full experience of the homeless or people who beg - but truly there is enough 'poverty porn' out there. And I'd argue the formal artistic merits of the photograph itself are not very exciting.

And in response to @issacg, who says

'From a social standpoint, I think that this captures, without a single word, everything that the least fortunate among us experience all of the time.'

, I would argue that it is a one-dimensional representation that hardly helps us to understand the full, "all of the time" experience of someone who begs. I don't think it is fair to deny that they may have moments of joy or appreciation just like anyone else. Feeling pity for others only solidifies those barriers between Us and Them, barriers that are more permeable than many of us would like to think or believe.

Also Swirly, I take some offense at the reminder that this time of year is the time

'we need to check up on and look out for each other'

- this is something that can be practiced in micro moments everyday, not just when it comes time to dole out charity at the end of the year.

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You get that from a single photo? I don't usually start thinking about fetishization or "porn" (not in the classic sense, but like "decaying-city porn") unless the photographer has taken a bunch of photos on a theme.

I don't know the photographer personally, but he's been posting stuff into the Universal Hub pool on Flickr for a long time (for which I am, I admit, grateful). He generally takes interesting cityscape scenes, often with no people at all in them, such as this, or in which people are present but not the main focus, such as this.

He has not been posting an endless series of photos of homeless people.

I posted the ramp photo for a couple of reasons. It showed something in Boston we don't tend to see too much of, and that I, with my mania for the quirky, the historical and, lately, the lunch-eating hawks, definitely don't post all that much: A poor, solitary person who is apparently at the bottom of the ladder (I mean, he's standing with a spare-change sign on an off ramp).

And the photo really conveyed a mood - a mood of sadness and bleakness (the man is all alone in a large sea of gray at the bottom of a highway ramp). To be honest, that's what grabbed my eye first - I didn't realize initially this was somebody down on his luck but just a solitary figure in what seemed to be a post-apocalyptic vision of the city (of the kind you might also get standing by one of the ramps on the other side of Fort Point Channel).

Couple the two, and I think this one photo really is worth a thousand words. Exploitive, though? I don't think so - although it seems people familiar with that ramp know who the guy is, or at least, where he lives, he's photographed from behind, in a way that tells a story without exploiting an individual.

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Hi all, I know I'm responding a day late but I'm the Phil that took the pic, and I'm not surprised at all that some people take offense to this shot--we're in a day and age where people can and will find a problem with everything, and I've given up taking it seriously any more.

Now normally I don't give a hoot about photographing people and instead focus, almost to a fault, on buildings, construction and cityscapes (see my Photostream here) and per usual my eye was on the building under construction in the distance. But once I had walked up to that intersection and saw the man standing there near-motionless even when there were no cars nearby I felt compelled to capture the scene... I mean he was just standing there like that with not a car in sight, and I watched him do this through several light cycles. It was a bit surreal, and that's before you factor in the desolate urban setting he's inhabiting.

Also, I was just as quickly struck by the dichotomy of there being a shiny new "luxury" building going up (...you know, because it has to be "luxury") versus the ever-present problem of homelessness, which in turn made me think of how this economy is doing just about nothing to help the less fortunate. THAT was my real point with this picture.

Oh and lastly, thank you adamg for supporting my photography! It's always a treat to be scrolling through the posts and then suddenly be confronted with my own creations =)

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this is something that can be practiced in micro moments everyday, not just when it comes time to dole out charity at the end of the year

Absolutely true. Although winter does result in more isolation than in the summer months, when people move around outside more. I see the local regular panhandlers daily in the summer, but not necessarily in the winter because I'm out less and they are out less. If one isn't there in the summer, people ask around. In winter? Hard to tell.

I was making a specific historical reference to yuletide visiting traditions, however. These were more than a social custom - they also served to ensure that anyone who was "shut in" by the weather or darkness or illness was accounted for and had what they needed. These travelled from Europe to Colonial America and were still common in Appalachia in recent times, and were very much tied to year end activities.

As for the links, well, those make it easy for those moved to compassion to take immediate action. I don't think these supportive organizations care if you donate now or in June - they use the resources to help people like this all year.

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Can bleeding hearts ever actually enjoy anything? Is everything subject to scrutiny and potentially offensive? By your logic, "Migrant Mother" was "poverty porn", even though it is probably one of the most powerful images in history.

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I agree with some of what you say (particularly the "at this time of year" thing, a pet peeve of mine -- don't get me started on the "volunteer to serve dinner at the shelter on Thanksgiving (but only if we can get outta there by 1 pm, because football and we gotta get the turkey in the oven)" thing). But I think it is misapplied in this case (see Adam's comment). Face it, you were shooting from the hip, and however well-intentioned, you missed the mark. I'd also disagree on the photo's artistic merit. I found it to be a striking image, particularly the absence of cars on a busy road.

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He lives here.

Anyone who wants to can take a walk by and give him a few bucks.

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As someone who is in awe of photographers and videographers who rush into situations where professionals with armor sometimes fear to tread in order to capture the reality of it for the rest of us, I have to say "piss off".

I don't know about Phil. Maybe he makes an amazing living off of his photography. Most don't, they just manage to get by. But if photographers have to give "a couple of bucks" for every downtrodden person they ever wanted to photograph/document, then they'll be subjects for the next round of photographers. The rest of us will never be confronted with the ills of our society because photographers will stop documenting people who have it worse than them.

As someone documenting reality, you have to realize that you're there to take good pictures and get them to the people who can do something about it. You can't solve the world's problems that you deal with as your subject except to make them known to everyone who can solve it as a whole.

Don't like that Phil took this guy's picture because you think he took advantage of the guy's life situation? Good. Do something about it yourself, but don't shoot the messenger. Phil's the messenger.

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From an artistic standpoint, I think this is a beautiful photograph.

From a social standpoint, I think that this captures, without a single word, everything that the least fortunate among us experience all of the time.

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Right. And that experience includes heroin withdrawal. Have you been down Northhampton Street lately? Junky Strip.

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Seriously, Ms. C., the previous poster was obviously touched by the photograph, and moved to think about and post about the plight of the least fortunate among us. Not an unreasonable reaction, especially this time of year.

And in response, you feel compelled to point out that you can find suffering drug addicts on Northampton Street? Have you no sympathy, let alone empathy? If bashing sick people makes you feel better, do you need to do it publicly?

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Wake up. Have you ever been an addict? The only enablers addicts need are doctors and nurses in detoxification programs and individuals who help and support them into getting clean amd sober, NOT passersby who give them money to go buy another bag so they can slip into the restroom in Tufts medical with a plastic spoon they grabbed from the hospital's coffee shop. You know nothing.

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....but I honestly can't decipher that rant.

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Who the hell is your beef with? Maybe you should direct it at them? Just a thought.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si7gu9yGz64

The Hollies- He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Another version,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rJXqij6UMU

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If there's anything distasteful here, it's Green Day's latter santitized, designed by comittee and paper thin output meticulously designed to appealed to depressed teens

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When you say, "designed by comittee (sic)" I assume you mean the 4 members of the band, since they are the only song writers.

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When did they get a fourth? Did the record label push them to in addition to helping write the songs because all those cool MCR kids were doing serious political music and fun songs about parties and masturbating were played out?

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