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接近许多无家可归的人是很困难的，他们常常走过了不满意的人生经历，并且活在对他人不信任的生活里。然而，他们中的许多人是和睦的并且有些人正试着离开街道。有许多原因使得为什么人们变得无家可归, 酒精或毒瘾, 失去工作, 或者一些人甚而喜欢那样生活。我们不必要为他们感到可怜，但是我们至少不要对他们比别人差。带着这个态度，我走上这个城市的街头，带着开放的意识接近他们，除了几次例外的时候当那些人似乎是在威逼或吓人。我通常提供帮助给他们或者简单地同他们进行十分钟到几个小时的对话。我通常会介绍我自己给他们，问他们一些问题，慢慢地，他们会感到跟我交谈很舒服。然后我就会跟他们提到我的摄影课程并且解释它的自然本意。在他们许可的情况下，我开始给他们拍照。一些人是非常开朗和放松的，一些人在询问几次之后还是拒绝。当我照他们的相片时，他们会考虑我对他们的印象。这也许导致某些主观看法，但每个观察者最终将以他/她的主观来浪漫化每张画像。这能再次导致有趣和变化莫测的反应。 在遇到这些人之后，我知道了他们的生活以及他们怎样度过他们的每一天。很多人常常只是整天站在街上乞讨零钱，一些人寻找零星工作赚些小钱, 一些人下棋来赢钱, 一些人在街头演出卖艺，一些人逗留在收容所里, 还有一些人在地铁站里自暴自弃。他们在他们的生活方式上在某种程度上都是相似的，但是他们作为个体，他们的生活目标，他们在生活中的希望都是非常不同的，并且这与我们大家是非常相似的。
Leslie Lok: help the people who live on the edge of our society
Inspired by the artist Alfredo Jaar, I decided to take on my own project that will help the people who live on the edge of our society, and perhaps, give awareness of the invisible being to the others. Many homeless people go on the street not only to seek for spare changes, but recognition for their humanity. Sometimes even a smile or a greeting will do. I dedicated my photography final project to present these people as whom they are as a person, not what they do as the homeless. My photographs record them as individuals with characters, their own uniqueness and even their peculiarity. I looked at the work of Richard Avedon’s American West and Peter Hujar’s Portraits in Life and Death. Both of these photographers take their photographs in a very confrontational way. The photographs are honest, sometimes instill with certain subjectivity. In Hujar’s work, the simple expression and the intense eyes of the person in the photograph interacts strongly with the viewers. They arouse emotions within me. I shall draw a quote from Susan Sontag, “Whatever their degree of ‘realism,’ all photographs embody a ‘romantic relation to the reality”. For my photographs, this relation is a result of the friendship I made with them, the experience or moment shared. Due to the certain interaction we made, there is give and take from me to them, and a give and take from them to me. It was then when they give me their face, body, and themselves, my photographs take them as who they are realistically and the romantic relation gives these photographs specific impressions of the individuals. Therefore, I hope the photographs do not merely capture the face of strangers.
Approaching many of the homeless is difficult; they often went through unpleasant experiences in life and live with distrust towards others. However, a lot of them are amicable and some are trying to leave the street. There are many reasons to why people become homeless, alcohol or drug addiction, the lost of jobs, or some even prefer to live that way. We need not to feel pity for them, but we must not treat them lesser than other people. With this attitude, I went onto the streets in the city and approach them with an open mind, with the exception of several times when the person seems intimidating or daunting. I would offer them help or simply start a conversation with them which could last between 10 minutes to hours. I usually tell them about myself and ask questions about them, slowly, they would feel comfortable talking to me. Then I would bring up the topic of my photography project and explain its nature. With their permission, I would proceed to photograph them. Some were very open and comfortable; some would still refuse after asking several times. I would consider my impressions of them when I take their photos, this might lead to certain subjective views but every viewer will eventually romanticize each portrait with his/her subjectivity. This could again lead to interesting and unpredictable reactions. After meeting all those people, I have learned about their lives and how they spend their days. Many usually just stand on the street all day asking for spare changes, some look for miscellany jobs to earn minimal cash, some play chess to win money, some perform on the street, some stay in shelter, and some crash in subway station. They are all similar to certain degree on the way they live, but they are all very different as an individual, on what their goals are, and their hopes in life. And this is very similar to all of us.
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