Everyday when I walk home through the TL I am always irked at myself for being a bad photojournalist and not having my camera attached to my hip 24/7. Although, there is only so much I can carry before I start to look like a bag lady, which I usually avoid (or accomplish?) by stuffing everything in one large sack that I had sewn with the original intent of making a large pillow. Running around with a pillowcase full of electronics like Santa isn’t always the brightest idea, no matter where you are in the city.
So yesterday I went out with the express purpose of documenting Hyde Street, my main thoroughfare to the Civic Center BART station. I ditched everything but my camera, a few lenses and a tripod starting at Bush St. continuing down to Market.
Sure carrying your camera around the TL can be dangerous, but it can be just as dangerous in other parts of the city. My experience, for the most part, has been that people don’t mind photographers out on the street, they’re usually just interested in whatever you’re taking a picture of, and wary of anyone pointing a camera (especially a huge professional DSLR) in their face. This explains why the iPhone is great for capturing images discreetly, albeit with far crappier quality. When people do mind, I would advise it’s best to walk away from the situation than to start an argument based on some law about where you legally can and cannot take a photo. When it comes down to it, you’ll be outnumbered 100,000 to 1. People in the loin have got each others back.
The average Tenderloinian does not want to be photographed, until they get to know you. Walking up to people and shoving a camera in between the shoulders of their crack deal is not going to help you make friends. Trying to sneakily shoot those people from a distance might land you getting your camera snatched, or worse. Talking to people is always a good idea, the most interesting people I have ever met have been on the streets of the Tenderloin, or working in neighborhood soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
So for my experience, I tried to capture the street itself and some of the permanent fixtures that have been changed over time by their environment. For those that love the charm of the old neon signs and rusted fire hydrants, these are for you.
Check out the slideshow to see all of the photos.