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December 11, 2012

How Do You Photograph Homeless for Newswire So People Actually Notice?

Homeless news photos 2 women Brendan Sullivan

If you’ve been following BagNews, you know we’ve been making noise, especially lately, about the absence of the poor and homeless from visual media and the newswires (1, 2). When the opportunity comes along, though, the question is how to engage the subject in a way that complies with the demand for increasingly stylish, smart and also eye-catching imagery?

Here are three different moves in a photo package from Getty by photographer Justin Sullivan illustrating the factoid that: “Homeless Numbers Remain Unchanged From 2011 Despite Increase In Funding.” The photos were taken in and around San Francisco’s Union Square.

1. Sex sells

So do portrayals of two Americas aimed at the gut (and ostentatious wealth). This shot covers both bases. With a woman in the foreground, by the way, you also have a lot more to consider. For example, you get the hint of connection with the ad image just overhead (as if the stooped woman might have had some glamour in her life).

Homeless Sullivan reading paper

2. Defy knee-jerk stereotypes

Sullivan’s photo is noteworthy for juxtaposing the guy sleeping with the other person reading the paper. Challenging visions of alcoholism, mental illness, aggravated vagrancy, the other figure portrays the homeless more like you and me.

Homeless man O2 Sullivan Getty

3. Tie in other issues

This photo goes for more complexity, as in: ¬†if we don’t do something about healthcare, or mortgage foreclosures, this could be your fate.

(10am PST – name correction — wrong Sullivan.)

(photos: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images caption 1: A homeless woman carries bags as she walks by a jewelry store on December 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Despite efforts from the Federal Government and local officials to provide more shelters and beds for homeless people, the number of people living on the streets remained unchanged from January 2011 to January 2012. The number of homeless families increased while the number of veterans on the street decreased.. caption 2: A homeless man sleeps in the park on December 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Despite efforts from the Federal Government and local officials to provide more shelters and beds for homeless people, the number of people living on the streets remained unchanged from January 2011 to January 2012. The number of homeless families increased while the number of veterans on the street decreased.. caption 3: A homeless man begs for change on December 10, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Despite efforts from the Federal Government and local officials to provide more shelters and beds for homeless people, the number of people living on the streets remained unchanged from January 2011 to January 2012. The number of homeless families increased while the number of veterans on the street decreased.)

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