New York City, NY | November 25, 2013 I met a man who introduced himself as Scott Sutton, on the sidewalk outside the Union Square movie theater on a frigidly cold day in NY. He was panhandling and had a unique sign reading “Give selflessly and you will reap endlessly.” I started talking to him - and at first we spoke about getting over the shame of begging. How hard it was for him to ask people for money, people who were literally looking down on him as they walked by.
I asked him how long he was on the street - “2 years now.” I asked about the shelters where all his clothes were stolen, the jacket he received as a donation, and the shoes he found in the garbage. We started comparing boots, and I told him about the ones I was wearing, combat boots which served me well in Afghanistan.
Then the conversation took a turn to the surreal.
"You were in the Army?" he asked. "No, I’m a photojournalist," I replied.
“Wow, so was I… In another lifetime.” He said.
“I used to work for Getty Images. I used to cover the Balkans… There came a point in my life when everyone I knew died. I lost everyone in my family… My wife, 13 years younger then me, she used to joke that she would die young, and she did of heart disease, 2 years ago… I lost… and I took a leave of absence,” he paused and looked me in the eye, “Well, you know what they say, when it rains it pours, and here I am now. On the street. Begging.”
I just wanted to update everyone on Scott’s status. Since posting yesterday’s image quite a few of his friends have contacted me from RIT - where he did his PJ grad schooling, and Archive Photos - where he was a darkroom tech in the 90’s. Currently we are all trying to figure out how to best help him, and Ill be going back out today to try and find him.
I spoke with Scott again yesterday and he is both overwhelmed and appreciative of all the attention. We are continuing the conversation with him to best find the appropriate support structure. 11/28/13
#photojournalism #documentary #reportage #streetphotography #homeless #nyc