Today I photographed food at Soju over on Congress Street. John, one of the photographers, came along and helped me with the lighting. Both of these images are actually lit from window light, although John did hold a white napkin up as a reflector.
One of the best things about working for a newspaper is hearing about all the cool things that go on in the city. That, and getting daily comics for free. The Kiwanis Pool opened for summer today and it is half a mile from my apartment.
I think being a lifeguard would be a horrendously stressful job. At least you get a sweet whistle.
(My more serious note)
If it were not for journalism, I would stay in my shell. I am shy and I usually make only small talk and awkward small talk at that. Journalism is, in a way, a sort of shield. With journalism, I can go someplace I normally can’t and, in a sense, experience that place in some small dose.
Today was the 3rd Annual Summer Solstice Rally in Post Office Park. The rally was put on by Homeless Voices for Justice. The groups leaders used to be homeless and most of its members are currently homeless. The rally was at noon, and truthfully, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t know how to act, because I was an outsider, because I was carrying two massive, expensive cameras that just didn’t seem to fit in.
But it was an assignment, so I went.
I met Anita Libby and her son, Charles Sheldon, at the rally. Anita is 70, Charles, 40. She gave Charles up at birth because she had eleven kids. He doesn’t blame her. He tracked her down when he moved to Portland. They are both homeless. They told me about the bedbugs at one shelter, the meals they get at another. Charles collects bottles for change. He grew up in Indiana along the Michigan border, and he and his adoptive father would collect the bottles and bring them to Michigan for 10 cents a bottle. Bottles in Maine are worth only five cents. He showed me where to look on the cans. He buys tobacco and paper with the money he gets from the bottles and he rolls his own cigarettes. Anita doesn’t smoke. She is has a motorized wheelchair that she sometimes needs to ride on the streets because the sidewalks have too many bumps. Charles sometimes needs to walk his goods-laden cart in the street so the wheels don’t wear as much. Sometimes people yell at him to get on the sidewalk, but he wants to know who’s going to buy him a new cart if this one breaks. Charles said he would like for other people to try being homeless, just for one day, just so they would know how it feels.
Sitting at Anita’s feet was a small, white therapy dog named King. Everyone knows King, Charles told me.
Charles showed me the gloves he just got at the dollar store for when he looks through garbage cans. A garbage man recommended he get a pair so as not to cut his hands.
Like most people I interview, I learned something. I cannot relate to Anita and Charles and their hardships, but I can relate to them as people. This is not the first time something like this is happened. Rather, many of my assignments go like this -I hesitate. But today my hesitance struck me as wrong and ignorant.
Sometimes we fear what we don’t know.
All images ©Portland Press Herald