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Craig Street Bum

Craig Street Bum

For the Class with Dave group.

Assignment: "The Street" in B&W – Your portrayal of life on the street. Photos must be black & white.

This is the Craig Street Bum. He is what I can best term, a professional homeless man. In one month, I will have lived in Pittsburgh for 15 years. For this entire time, this man has been stationed on Craig Street between Forbes and Fifth Avenue. He sometimes moves from one side of the street to the other. He is never there at night. But every day, rain or shine, whenever I am on Craig Street he is there, perched on his milk crate, with a cup in front of him begging for change. I have often wondered if he is really homeless or not. Not to be callous, but you’d think after 15 years he’d either be back on his feet or would have died. I don’t very often see people giving him change (I think most passers by are aware that he is simply there every day) but he clearly changes his clothes from time to time, despite having "the homeless look." If you pay close attention you’ll even notice that his Nikes are newer than mine.

Maybe I should give the panhandling thing a try.

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18 comments for “Craig Street Bum

  1. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 4:37 am

    Nice story – like the pic too.

    Not sure on your framing of this. There seems to be too much wall – I notice that the light behind the Craig Street Bum is rather bright so I suppose he may have ended up silhouetted if you’d panned to the right.

    Must be quite a sad existence whether he’s truly homeless or not. Anyway, nice work here – it tells a story, and that’s a bloody good thing in my book

    Seen next to a fellow photo of Take a class with Dave & Dave. (?)

  2. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Yeah, I hear the homeless benefits are great. Sitting in the rain. Freezing your ass off in the winter.

    God, people in Pittsburgh either make the homelees to be saints on the streets or cunning con men.

    Damn, sometimes people are just homeless. So unless you’re going to give them a room in your home or find them jobs, drop a buck in the cup and help the homeless get through the day the best they — and you — can.

    And thank your God, that you can take photos of them and ponder the plight.

    By the way, since you’re being critical, I’m surprised how nice his Nikes are. And that might be a watch he’s adjusting…all signs of a wonderful life.

    Okay as for the photo…it’s out of focus

  3. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 9:31 am

    I think it’s a good shot. initially before reading Rutty’s comments I thought he was homeless but actually – I think he is a conner – trying to get some cash instead of earning a living. Whatever – I like the way it has commotations for both sides.

  4. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 10:42 am

    @rutty: Thank you. I could have cropped out more wall and left more street, but I liked the feeling that he was a fixture on the side of the building. Maybe it didn’t work as well as I had hoped.

    @blindspot1330: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come across as a total judgement against homeless people. And you’re right. I don’t know the man, he could really be homeless or not. I have no idea. But I was attempting to tell a story with the pic and that is the story I am telling. It is a general feeling of many who pass that particular man. And yes, that is a watch he is adjusting. I wanted a soft focus, but I agree with you that it should be sharper than it is. If I had it to do all over again I would have used a tripod (which I didn’t have on me at the time) and a higher ƒ-stop. Thank you for your comments.

    @Paps Photo: that was what I thought made him interesting. We don’t really know. Thank you for the comment.

  5. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    pittsburgh! i was born/raised there, until age 28.
    (been in SF bay area for the last 22 though.)

    wow, now i’m going to be looking at your photos with a different pov 🙂

    Seen in my contacts’ photos. (?)

  6. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Well said on all counts. This photo poses a lot of questions and answers few. What is this guys real life on the street? The composition works well. He’s in the shadow of this wall that leads the eye up to him. The brightly lit street just beyond creates this sense of another world he’s not in. Lot’s of ways to analyze this story.

    Seen next to a fellow photo of Take a class with Dave & Dave. (?)

  7. avatar
    May 3, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    @giggie larue: yep. I’ve been here since 1992.

    @Paul Cook: yeah, the light vs. shadow is intentional. I was trying to create the sense that he’s just sitting in some back alley somewhere. Actually, he’s not. He’s on the main street under an awning of a restaurant, the brightly lit stuff is actually a side street.

  8. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 12:36 am

    I work in a public library in which we have many homeless regulars. There’s one man who is there every day and even has tried to help the staff when patrons are rude. I see him around town from time to time and we also wave a hello. I do wonder why he is in the situation he is, but take him for what he is. I guess these types of images always bring a story to mind.

    I think I would like this image better if I could see his face in more detail.

  9. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 9:49 am

    @abchick: really? interesting… i almost shadowed his face out more to make him more anonymous.

  10. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    There was an article, a few years back, in Baltimore magazine, profiling jobs ranging from top execs to panhandlers. The man that they interviewed for the panhandler job said, basically, that he wasn’t up for running in the rat race. He became the way he was after he lost someone very close to him and lost his will, or his way. He didn’t want to return. He made anywhere from $50-75/day standing on the street corner. He had shelters to go to in the evening. $50-75/day isn’t too bad for having NO EXPENSES…but could you, or would you want, to live that lifestyle? My guess…No.

    Anyway, this is a great street shot. Don’t go panhandling on us now Mav…unless you do it for an experiment, see how it goes for a week…find a corner, preferably one that isn’t already used by another regular so as not to create any "waves".

    As for those "new" Nikes….check out the starbucks cup?! Those things cost more than Nikes sometimes ;-P

  11. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    oooooooh!!! Totally just noticed…you should join bokeh whores. Dave Teter has issued a "challenge" this week for fire hydrant bokeh shots….your photo TOTALLY works for this challenge 😀

  12. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    @pi c’s: yeah, I don’t think I really want to go that way. I’m way too material. And I’m adding to the bokeh whores group now.

  13. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    yay! thanks for submitting this to bokeh whores. 🙂

  14. avatar
    May 4, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    @davidteter: no problem at all. Thank you for the fave.

  15. avatar
    May 7, 2007 at 12:03 pm


  16. avatar
    May 7, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    @lifeisamistery: thank you.

  17. avatar
    May 9, 2007 at 12:36 am

    wrong tag dude. 🙂

  18. avatar
    May 9, 2007 at 12:40 am

    @d.rex: oops… fixed… I’m not that smart. 🙂

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