Downtown Portland, pioneer square, players gather to face-off in daily chess matches. This game was quick: I showed up and snapped this photo as they were reaching the final seconds of play. They each had less than ten seconds left on their individual play clocks.
The older man won
The younger man exclaimed loudly as he forfeited after a quick exchange of moves: "ah!"
He's one of the many Street Roots sellers around Portland. "Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change." (from SR website, StreetRoots.org)
This man's voice was, in a way, startlingly soft and gentle. He appeared very pulled back into himself. When I asked him if i could take his picture, he responded with "yes, I don't mind," almost in a whisper
Him: Can I have two dollars?
Me: I don't have two dollars. Can I take your picture?
Him: If you give me two dollars.
Me: I don't have two dollars
Him: Why do you want to take my picture?
Me: Well ... I really like taking pictures and it really moves me to-
Him: (interrupts) okay, you can take my picture.
(i think he was holding a dachshund in his lap)
As I was walking by, this young man called out to me. "Hey! You can take MY picture!"
His friends laughed as he struck this pose
This is the most cleanly-dressed person sitting on the street, asking for hand-outs, I may have every seen. In a full suit, clean tie, dress shoes, collared shirt, he also was wearing a small leather bag around his neck with unknown contents. As Janani, my partner, and I were walking past, he asked for money, or anything, and emphasized how hungry he was. We went to the store to get ourselves some hummus, bread, and avocado, and bought him four bananas.
When we came back to where he was before, he was kneeling over, helping an older, apparently very drunk, man out of the gutter. The older man seemed to have fallen into a wet, muddy pool and possibly hurt himself. This man, the one I took a photo of, refused the bananas saying "i'm allergic; my lips swell up like balloons." He then referred us to another homeless person he had an aquaintance with, to whom we could pass along the fruit.
As i was walking by her, she asked me "what type of camera are you using?"
In the space of my being taken aback by this apparently homeless person asking me what type of (clearly high-end) camera i'm using, she added,
"I know, it's a little strange that a homeless girl is asking you what type of camera you're using, but i'm planning on going to photography school in the fall."
I wished her luck and safety and good fortune, and we talked a little about cameras, lenses, and about how she's intending on keeping a cheerful mood while being homeless. As we parted ways I could hear her engaging other people in an equally friendly way.