Reader: Is it really a great idea to photograph homeless people?

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Photographer Scott Russell has documented the lives of Denver sign-fliers in Cardboard & Concrete, a show that debuts this weekend at Wazee Union, and puts a face -- actually, eleven faces -- on the city's controversial homeless issues.

But the show itself is stirring some controversy.

Says VW:

I'm sure I'll have the dissenting voice here, but why do so many people feel compelled to photograph homeless people? Nearly every young photographer I know -- and those who come into it, regardless of age -- comes up with this "great" idea to go photograph homeless people.

First -- it's unoriginal; second -- it's a purely selfish and opportunistic endeavor. I read this story hoping that this young photographer would have had some sort of higher sense of responsibility or call to action that would have, ultimately, benefited his subjects. To "put a face" to these folks is unnecessary and to profess, "We want people to hear what they have to say"; really? It's not like they're hiding away in darkened corners - these particular subjects are out on street corners in plain sight - we see them and all these signs say the same thing -- "need help". Clearly, they need help or they wouldn't be standing on a street corner.

Yes, they're interesting to look at -- beautiful, even; but this is easy prey and I'm actually surprised that a gallery would find artistic merit in such a show -- especially when there's being nothing done relative to the betterment of their lives.

Is there artistic merit in the Cardboard & Concrete approach? Do the homeless need help more than they need photographs? Post your thoughts in the space below, or join the conversation already under way here.

Follow us on Twitter!

Like us on Facebook!

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.