This post originally appeared on VICE Australia
Sometimes they're awesome, and sometimes they're not. But hey, no judgment—being good at shit is hard. Over the past year or so, however, I've noticed a disturbing trend that seems to plague the best and the worst of them: taking pictures of homeless people. I don't know what all these people saw that made them believe taking a picture of some dude having a bad time is art, but 99 percent of the time it's lazy and beyond lame.
Street photography is a tricky balance between being an artist and being a creep, and it's something that even the best shooters in the world struggle with. It's no secret that a lot of the time you'll get a better photo of an unusual or amazing thing if the subject is unaware. But homelessness isn't unusual or amazing. It's not a surreal moment in time that you can capture and use to illustrate that the world is a brain-splittingly cruel place. A dog in a backpack is odd, and a person living on the street is a reality for millions of people.
To be fair, the people who send in photo essays that casually feature these shots probably aren't trying to be assholes. At least I hope they're not. I assume they either think they're being edgy or poetic. But it's not at all edgy—it's lazy. You're not creating some sort of outsider art by taking a picture of someone less fortunate than you. You're at best a passive observer and at worst a predator. It's a way to shortcut your own experience by hijacking someone else's.
Illustration byMichael Hili.
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Topics: Homeless, homelessness, Australia/NZ, Photography, Photographs, street photography, artist, voyeur, photo essays, predator, urban poverty, poverty, skate rat, douche bag, shitty photos, submissions