First off let me start by saying how much I respect Thomas Hawk’s photography skills. He is one of the reasons I get motivated when I post photos because once in a while I post something that catches his eye and he marks it a fav on Zooomr or Flickr. On those days I am so excited because he is an everyman photography demi-god for many people. Or, maybe I’m just a huge fanboy.
The other day I saw on my feed reader a post titled: Introducing Christopher and the Start of My $2 Portraits Project. I clicked on it and was greeted with this beautiful and haunting portrait.
Photo by Thomas Hawk
Thomas’ project and something that he says he will do for the rest of his life is:
From this week going forward until the day that I die I am going to offer $2 to anyone who asks me for money in exchange for their portrait. While I’m taking their portrait I’m going to ask their name and try to learn a little bit about them. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life — assuming that I can afford to.
So far there has been a ton of reaction to this project. Thomas always gets a ton of reaction to his work as be is very vocal and can be controversial. Heck he photographs every person who has kicked him out of places that he had every right to be in. But I digress…
I was wondering what you (my readers) thought of his project.
Is Thomas showing empathy in asking for a portrait in response to being asked for money?
He is also taking the time to learn a bit about each person that he makes a portrait of. How many times have I quickly walked down the street avoiding all eye contact with the homeless in fear that they would ask for money and I would have to interact because I was uncomfortable. In this way, in that Thomas makes an acknowledgment of each person as a person I find it commendable. In stopping to talk to each person and give them money and learn about them I find it amazing.
Is Thomas exploiting each person as he photographs them and then posts the photo on Flickr, Zooomr and blogs about each photo?
Yes the photos go up on his blog, Flickr and Zooomr. However, I think it is a good thing, because he puts the face of a person right there for you to see. Do you turn away out of embarrassment at how you have personally treated the homeless? Does the photo make you want to do the same thing as Thomas? Does it make you want to do something, anything to help?
No, I don’t think he is being exploitive. Thomas is well known around the internet, he is an internet rockstar and has internet fame. Thomas has this fame because of his amazing photos and how he interacts with people. People like him or loath him, but they are aware of the things he says, blogs about and photographs. So because he has some internet fame he has people coming out of the woodwork either praising or decrying his project. But he’s got people talking.
I don’t think that he is being exploitive, in his heart. I read this other post from earlier in the year and I think that the interaction Thomas had on that bridge is what is partly motivating this personal project.
Either way he is doing something, something to bring this issue of homelessness into our minds, to challenge our thoughts and how we treat others. If this makes you stop and think then he has done a service to you. Whether you love him or hate him for what he does, he does make you think.
So, What do you think?
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