These photographs of homeless people were taken over the last several years in San Francisco. Working with a small non-profit agency, Care Through Touch Institute (CTI), our goal was to document some of their clients. This project proved to be empowering for these people, and also very humbling for those of us involved. Interestingly, all of these folks were thrilled to participate, tell their story and have their photo taken.
The CTI mission is to care and educate poor and marginalized people by providing massage therapy and holistic health practices that transform body, mind and spirit.
My experience photographing people on the fringes of society was profound. It was hard not feeling a sense of compassion knowing some of these people were dying in hospice, some living with debilitating diseases, others living on the streets for years, some were recovering addicts, and many had severe mental disorders.
While many of these homeless people were from broken homes and uneducated, others were once nurses, businessman, and educators. It made me realize how fragile life can be.
I've included portraits of people getting massages at CTI, during their interviews, and also living in their tents. I choose to process these photos in black and white. This seemed to impart a sense of intimacy to the subjects. And while these people are often living difficult lives, many of them have a spark of life and love. I hope these photos convey some of that feeling.
© John Arif Verner - Clear Lotus Photography