Category Archives: Street Photography

Edmund Bacon, The Passing Of Time

Edmund Bacon   May 2, 1910 – October 14, 2005

To the best of my memory, it’s 1999. I wanted to do a series of American Artists with my 8×10 Deardorff named Margaret. My ex-wife Deb was instrumental in making this work. Anyway, I made photos of Artists I could gain access to. One day, I got a call from the AIA—American Institute of Architecture. The woman told me that a ranking member wanted to meet me and discuss some ideas. So, we set a time and I went to the AIA to meet this member. I go into the space and there’s about 40 people standing around sipping champagne and nibbling on wee little wrapped hot dogs.

A tall elderly man approaches me and says, come get a snack. I said I’ll pass but would like to have a discussion with you. I know he was Ed even if he didn’t know that I knew. Ed invited me to his home and we set a time and date, a week later.

That was the start of the Passing of Time with Ed. He showed me the upstairs of his home. It was a workspace of sorts. There were so many interesting things all around. He had the original books of the layout of the city.  Then, then he called me over to a table. There was a 3-dimensional layout of something. Ed said this is my idea for the LibertyBell and a Visitor Center at the Historic Park. Ed said that another High-End Archetec won the construction contract. Don, the design has nothing to do with the people and the visitors. It is completely a commercial space. In time, you’ll see, McDonald’s will be there. I laughed but he said, during the Passing of Time, we either remember or forget our roots. The new home for the Sacred Liberty Bell will be a shallow open grave.

Ed wanted to go for a walk in the Historic Park. He told me his friend Louise Nevelson had a sculpture that he wanted a good photo of. So we trekked over and stood in front of the statue. I had my 2 M-6’s  Ed said, we don’t have digital yet so we need to make the photos and inspect them by hand. haha  He placed his hand on my shoulder and said. If we look at the sculpture and a thing then that’s what we will see and pass on to others. The sculpture is not something that is in our world and time but lives amongst us in the Passing of Time.  I spent a long time making photos of the sculpture and never really satisfied Ed. He always had another idea for it. One of our last times together, he said… see the point of the sculpture? We need it to be in color and right here,(he sticks a pin on the left point) and says, the photo wants a red person right there. I said it may take a long time to find that. Don, you have a mission now.

It’s March 6th, 2024 and I am out making some photos. I am at the Historic Park walking about and then, I feel some energy tugging at me. I looked across the street and felt, I needed to be over there. The next thing I knew, I was at the Nevelson statue.  It has been more years than I can remember since Ed and I stood in this exact spot in time and space. together. I have Penelope the Olympus OM-5 in hand.  I’m looking at the statue and feeling kinda melancholy and watching as time passes us all and the statue just smiles. I start to turn around and all of a sudden. a man walks to the statue and he’s wearing RED.  Penelope is a shakin’ and a vibrating in my hand. I put her to eye and then, a lifetime of time passing just flows in my vision. Click!

The Poison of Seeing

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It has been said that we should see things as if seeing them for the first time. This is crucial to photography. Example of futility. Uncle Birney and I went to his home after work. I mentioned to him the issue of seeing things for the first time, whenever you look at it.  He was not a photographer but very smart. This issue had been bugging me for a while and I found no reasonable solution.

There was a tree in front of the house on the lawn. We stopped walking. Birney told me, there is a million dollars buried under the tree. You can have it all, but…there is a teddy bear leaning against the tree. He said, open your mind and tell me if you see it. After a few seconds, I said, yeah I see it. Then Birney told me, you can have the money but if you see the teddy bear, the money vanishes. I said, that’s easy. Then I realized for all of my life, I would see the teddy bear before I ever got a chance to get the money.

His mother, my grandmother, once told me to never poison my mind. I didn’t really pay attention but later, when I needed visual rescue, it dawned on me that Birney and Nana taught me a lesson I will never take for granted. It’s the lesson of SEEING.

See, pun intended, when I was told to see things as if seeing them for the first time, in my mind, it was impossible. I already had the vision planted deep in me poor head. How is it possible to see things for the 1st time after I already saw them? Can’t be done. So, Nana was right about poisoning the mind. Seeing something is poison in your mind. We can’t escape that.  Trying to see past that is futility. BUT…There is a way to stay focused and attempt to have the original thought.  Birney gave me the path to this. See, every time we look at something again, we see the teddy bear. Trying to rid of that is impossible. The trick is to accept the teddy bear and see the tree differently. I tried, but never got the money… and of course, Birney told me no one else could help in any way.

So, seeing something different versus trying to see it for the first time, is completely different. As photographers, we simply must allow a different vision to the commonplace in our lives. Traveling to other countries, places, etc is nice but you can never run from yourself. The simple truth of this is…. no matter how hard you try, you can never make the same photo with 2 different exposures. Put the camera on the motor drive, it fails to duplicate the first frame. There is always some poison in the mind of the photo.

True Tales From the Streets of Philly

There was a newspaper here in Philly long ago. The Department of Photography head was named Jack C. Kosmin got me a cool job with the paper. I was hired as a sub to shoot homeless people on the street. I had a writer with me. His name was Marty. So we set out to Skid Row. It’s 1981. Skid Row was the bowery. I wore a long trench coat, a camera, and some rolls of film in my deep pockets. I walked all over the area many times over and over. I stopped at a Barbershop. It was Bonanno Barber Shop. His brother was a very famous Mafia King. His younger brother died in Nam. So we had things to talk about when he wasn’t busy. He told me I could hang there at the shop, keep my gear there and all is safe. “No one fucks with a Bonanno”. He kept a Bottle of Amaretto on the shelf and he taught me how to hold the little cup with my finger out and just sip slowly. He said we need to let the drink just engulf our tongues, then slide down the throat so all the flavor is enjoyed.  It’s over 40 years ago and If I get some Amaretto, well, I know how to hold the cup and drink it.

I was on Race Street near 8th and I saw some people standing around. There was a man on the sidewalk and he didn’t look good at all. I know that look all too well. Some guy all scruffy looking and with torn clothes is working on the guy, A woman says, how is he Doc, is he ok? So he says, hit 4 and get a cop.  That meant go to the intersection and get on all 4 corners and hail a cop. There are no payphones at all around. He keeps the guy breathing and when the cops get there, they thank him.  We all start to go to the Church on Arch Street. They have lunch meals. for free and a place to wash up a wee bit. ‘

So, I’m chomping at the bit to get this guy’s story. We are in the food line and I can smell the fresh baked muffins. After we ate I walked outside and lit a Camel. Doc stands next to me and asks for a smoke. Then he asked me, What are you up to around here? I explained I was a Nam  Vet and making photos of life on the street. Then we started walking and talking. He said he was a WW2 Combat Medic. I was like amazed at the words he said. We bonded quickly after that.

I then said, now I know why they call you Doc. Yeah, my history follows and leads me. Doc said he had a very successful practice in Bryn Mawr and a luxurious lifestyle. He was in business with a lifelong friend and as it turned out, that guy was um, well, sleeping with Doc’s wife. He put 2 million dollars in a secured account with his daughter. The house, cars everything he left for the wife as he walked out the door. We went into a Pharmacy and Doc talked with the Pharmacist. He pulled out a script pad and wrote 3 scripts. The Pharmacist filled them and we headed back to the Church. Turns out there was a few really sick people and he was taking care of them. If Doc sent someone to the Pharmacy, they didn’t pay cause Doc pre-paid for everything. Doc treated a few people and a young girl that was pregnant,  He paid special attention to. She was off-street cause Doc paid the Church to provide quarters for her.

It was time for me to leave and I did.

On Life of Photography

I had a realization at 13 years old, that I was absorbed by photography. I mean that I believed I would not want to exist without photography. This is a belief that I live daily. It is the common denominator of breathing. There has to be a driving force for our souls to be in touch with the physical US. This is the energy of existence. The drive to become one with ourselves. This energy or source of breathing can’t be found within anyone outside of ourselves. It emanates from within us. We need to nurture and feed this as a single entity that seeks for semi-completeness. The thing is, that we strive for completeness but should never really achieve it. Doing so releases the drive to grow, learn, and feel progress in our lives.

So photography does this for me. Maybe music, science, drugs, or anything else works for others. I never went to college, and never studied formally philosophy, psychology, photography, or any of the academic paths. I know this and I live it. If you are doing something that maybe means something to you, then do it as if your life depends on it, because it does.

Ahaa, see, now we are talking about making photos. Ideally, we as photographers will eventually find our individual stances.
It’s very easy to mass-produce photographers and their photos. There is a whirlwind of cameras, software, darkrooms, ideas, opinions, etc. Wading through the muck is exhausting and actually counter-productive. First off, we must find our stance. That stance will carry us thru life and keep us focused. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

I like to feel the connection to the entire process of making the photo. I mean, I feel the camera, Andre’ the Leica M9, currenbtly. We have a synergism that allows me to be free with the process of finding and making the photo. Of course, my other cameras provide the same process with minor adjustments. i have them all as intuitive as possible.

So, on the technical end, there is a camera, process, editing, curating, and anything else we have in the mix. Aesthetically, this is where we have to tune in the Eye, Heart, and Mind. Then, of course, intent which is the path to completeness of intent.

The aftermath of the shutter release is the instantaneous truth of what you just did.  I recognize this when I am working. Like, I see something, start to feel something and then the camera clicks. If the photo works, I maybe, kinda, sorta know it works. It’s not rocket science either but most welcome experience.

The beauty of life is not in the established moment of reality, but in the wonder and mystery that we allow to enter our essence.

… I’ll be back shortly …

Early Life Influences PT3

Well, school once again was not happening. I was on my way home and just got off the subway. I saw a guy with a Nikon F on his neck at my subway stop. I walked over and introduced myself and he did likewise in turn. His name was Bill. I told him I just got kicked from Antonelli’s and he laughed. He said the best thing that could happen to you. Bill told me he went to Antonelli’s and didn’t graduate because he was a fine art photographer and not a wedding shooter. For the first time in ages, I felt a connection that meant something. We spent a lot of time making photos and he taught me a lot I already knew. One day Bill told me we were going to the Phila Museum of Art. I said to him, I am a soldier and have never finished High School or even thought about college. Bill was a graduate of The Phila College of Art. Anyway, we went to the Museum and he took me to meet a man. His name was Ding (Kneeland) McNulty, the curator of Prints and Photographs. Ding was very gracious and I was honored to be in his presence. He told me to come back anytime I wanted to. I was nervous for maybe the first time in my life. No joke. Even in Nam, I never had one nervous moment. 4 days later, I got a postcard in the mail of a guy on a donkey, riding into the sunset from Bill. I never heard from Bill again, even to this day.

It took me 3 weeks to muster up the guts to go to the Museum.  I went to Ding’s office and greeted him nicely. He asked why it took so long for me to return. I told him I felt inferior and just didn’t know why I was even there. Don, listen to me. Bill is a trusted friend and he told me that, people go to college to learn what you know naturally. So we sat and he showed me some photos. My heart raced and my brain just overloaded. Do you know this photographer and his work? He showed me how to hold prints by the edge carefully. I answered, yes, it’s Paul Strand. He handed me another print, yes it’s Stieglitz from the Equivalent. Another and I said, Winogrand.

Don, I trust you and will allow you to handle even the most valuable photos. There was a woman that made the most remarkable photos, her name was Anne Brigman. I studied her work intensely. Ding told me, she was the true counterpart for Weston. I stayed with Ding for about a year off and on. He was curating an exhibition and the prints were laid out on the carpet and he asked me if I liked the sequence. For the most part, I liked it but there were 7 prints in the wrong place. I showed him and explained why and he laffed. He said, listen Mr, you are not getting my job. He hugged me and i hugged him and I knew, our time together was over. I never saw Ding again even tho, he is in my heart, mind, and soul and I name a camera after him always.

I’m told that I am baring my soul writing all this. Perhaps there is truth in that but I don’t recognize my Soul or the truth of it.

Early Life Influences PT2

I fail at keeping a chronological order of things. I will do my best to lay things out as I remember them but not exactly in the time frame of happening.

We are in the boonies and I’m about 6 weeks in country.  More missions than time in country. It’s like 123F and I am almost dry. A guy comes over to me and says, ya got leeches on your neck. Let me check your body. So we took my top off and sure enough, 7 more leaches. I didn’t feel them and never knew they were on me. Spud took a knife that was like a katana and started getting the critters off me. I asked Spud if I would be ok. He said, Jingles, unfortunately, you will live. Then we smoked a joint and drank some Bourbon. This is in the middle of the shit and he was like, we are at a beach. I asked him how long he was in country and he said, over 5 years. WHY THE FUCK are you here for 5 years.

Spud told me he was here a year and got a Star a few Purple Hearts and other Medals and recognitions. When the tour was up he was anxious to go home to Idaho. When he got home, his family seemed distant. He talked with his mom and she was not comfortable with him anymore. Apparently, they were very Christian and couldn’t accept his service. He signed up for another tour and went home to Nam. He told me, he never saw his mom or family again. Spud was on his 5th tour and told me he was never leaving because he was now home.

He grabbed my arm hard and shook me… “don’t you ever accept a medal for this shit. Don’t you ever let your family know what you did or witnessed here, you promise me, you shithead?” I do, I promise. When my tour was up and I went home, it was as if Spud programmed my life.. I got home for Christmas 1970. I was in the kitchen with Mom and we talked a little. Then she turned to me with a look I never saw before. She said to me, “You are not my son. I don’t recognize you. Who are you”?

We were in Chu Lai Village on security observation duty. Gravy for us,. People all around, pretty young girls, were ok. We are sitting around in a semi-circle and talking about how life will be when this is done. Willie is saying he was gonna start a Black Congregation of Baptist.  Wow, I thought that was about the most important thing I ever heard in my life. Then Steve says, I am an atheist and don’t believe in GOD. It’s all an illusion and I am not into it. Just at that moment, I pulled my 45ACP and fired a shot right past his head. He yells Oh my GOD, are you crazy, You could have hit me. I’m not crazy but you are a hypocrite and if you ever degrade GOD again, I won’t miss.

Willie was a cool dude. He liked me because he said I was color-blind.  To this day I never see race at all, just the heart and blood. Red Blood, we all have that in common. If anyone ever tells you differently, it’s a lie. A little while after we had this talk, Willie got his leg blown off and bled to death right in front of us. I like to believe that Willie went to the congregation of THE LORD and had peace at last.

Herman Kosmin gave me the M-4 and 35mm Cron as I was leaving to go to Nam. I told him, I can’t afford this Herman. He put his hand on my shoulder and said. “Listen, if you don’t make it back, our debt is over. If you do and I want you to, then you can pay me for the Leica and lens then. Ok, do we have a deal?
Yes, I was like really touched. He then said, You are in the book of Jove. I shot a lot of film with that camera. Many shots are in the Library of Congress, safely stored. When I got home, I took the camera and the lens to Kosmin’s Camera Exchange to give Herman the camera back. He was excited to see me and I was like really happy. Herman was one of my photography mentors and fathers. He took the camera and immediately I felt my insides just ache and get lonely. “Don, this is your camera. It always was and better always be.” Maybe now I can get a good night’s sleep and not worry about you.

I wanted to be a real photographer when I got home. So, I signed in to Antonelli School of Photography. I was accepted because i had the GI Bill and they were paying for it. After a week in school, I was totally bored. It seemed to me that it was a professional wedding school. I was right. Then, some students came to me and asked me questions. I knew the answers to all questions naturally. IO even helped some get the cameras working. We used 4×5 Graphics, 4×5 Graphic View Cameras, and some Mamiya 21/4. I never used a view camera before but when I got one on a tripod, I understood immediately how light worked in the camera. One day about 6 months in, a teacher called me into his office. We sat and he told me how much everyone respected me and how I helped many. Then, he said…”Don, the students are coming to you with questions and not coming to the teacher”. You are giving the right answers but you are taking the students from us. So, Unfortunately, your time here is terminated. I will contact the VA and let them know that you reached a time to move on. Once again, I failed myself.


Early Life Influences

I hold the freedom to just put photos in the post that are not directly related to the story, or are they?

There are things and people in my life that I remember so well. It’s not that I remember, it’s that I can never forget.

I grew up in Logan in Philadelphia. I was a teen and there was a girl around the corner. Her name was Harriet. She was older and from a wealthy family. I wasn’t. She had pitch-black hair and pearly white skin. I had never seen anyone that beautiful in my entire life. She was graceful and floated in the air like angels do. I would see her and just be mesmerized. I would have given my life just to share one breath with her.

When I was in High School, my friend and I were hanging out with some kids in another neighborhood. One day, we were all sitting on the porch, playing guitars and stuff. A tall girl with brown hair walked up on the porch. Her name was Karen. She started playing guitar and singing and I just kept falling under her spell that she wasn’t even aware of. Time passed and I just breathed Karen. She liked me also but in a different way.

Then, shortly after, I got my draft notice. I had 10 daze before I was to leave. Karen wrote and sang a song that to this day, I remember every word and nuance of her voice. So, I went to Ft Bragg and Ft McClellan to be a grunt. To cut to the chase, I was sent to VietNam as a grunt. My first firefight was my death and my re-birth. I lost my religion but my spirituality blossomed with a passion. When we were kinda safe and re-grouping, I had a serious thought and feeling. I felt I abandoned GOD and broke the most serious Commandment. That in itself, altered my existence but … the thought of Karen learning about my experiences in Nam and what I did as a soldier, haunted me to a point that I couldn’t live with myself. Even now, decades later, inside my heart and soul, I am not worthy to even breathe her. She is on Facebook and occasionally I post a comment on her stuff.


There was a girl named Helena. She was lovely and stunning. We dated for a week and then I told her I had to go to Nam. She kissed me and said …: “Good luck, stay safe and I never want to hear from you again or what happened to you “.

I had my Black M-4 and a 35mm Cron with me but didn’t use it for over a month when I got in country.  I felt that making photos was a thing for me and might detract from my duty and loyalty to my fellow grunts. Then one day, I just started making photos. I wanted to document my life there. I was doing color because I was using color. Then the guy in the lab told me, “Do B&W because color gets screened and censored if there is blood in the photo. B&W is ok cause you can’t see red.

I was shooting pics like crazy. Even on our missions, I made many photos. One day, we were out and the shit hit the fan. It was a nightmare and I did my job but also made many photos of the scene. After an hour or so, we regrouped again and got the guys loaded on a chopper for the medivac. Even bodies, I made photos of. A tall husky man with 3 cameras on his neck and shoulder came to me and asked, Are you Larry Burrows? Then he smiled. He said, I watched you and you must have great shots. I knew he was a pro and I was impressed. He went with us on many missions. One day, we were looking at my photos and smoking dinky dau and he said… Don, what are you gonna do with your photos? I smiled and said, I’m gonna make a book and it will be a real true look at being a grunt. He said, you have it all in your shots, a great job but… may I mention … how will the mothers, etc feel about seeing their sons mangled, blown up, bodies dismemberd feel? how will Dad feel seeing his beloved son lying there dead? Your photos will affect people for the rest of your life, but not this way. Jock was right. I never thought about the aftermath of my work. I never considered the effect my photos would have on the survivors of my experiences. Jock told me that he could get me a spot in the Library of Congress to house my photos. I agreed knowing that my photography would be safe sleeping and only a distant memory for me when I got home, if I even did. I was 20 years old then and Jock was 48. He was a pro from Australia. He taught me Humanity and Humility and how to do Tequila with Lime.

Jock gave me a Nikon F with a 200m 4.0. He told me to use it so I keep my distance but I never used the camera. My duty and job was to be close, then closer. When I got orders to go home to the world, I gave the camera back to Jock with the same unused roll of Tri-X in it. Jock and I wrote back and forth a few times a year for a while. I found out that Jockngained 60lbs after getting home. He died in 1991 from a Heart Attack,

I’m going to keep this series going because I need to.

Portrait of me by Richard Chaitt,1973

Surviving The Carnage To Creativity, Pt 3


The Inverse Square Law is always present and always imposes itself upon us.  My friend from the late-1970s. Bill once told me…”The struggle to create will make you produce better work.  I figured that was some kinda college stuff. I didn’t go to college but Bill did and he told me that. So, in a way, we both benefited from that. He told me that the harder it is to create, the better the work will be. The reason is, time is of the essence. No time to waste makes us appreciate the little time we have.

I was on a walk a bout in center city and I noticed something I haven’t seen in a while. I just looked around and was kinda not shocked but surprised.  I didn’t wanna seem old-fashioned because it really wasn’t anything new, just reborn. Anyway, I noticed that most people had faces. yes, it’s true. They seemed to not wear a mask. I hadn’t seen many faces in years. It got to the point that I would walk around and check the mask people wore. I could tell the model easily.

I realized that I was living mask complacency. See, when we see things over and over and take them for granted, we face being complacent. In photography as well as life, maybe the same thing for you, it is for me….being complacent is a very serious issue. I know many have fallen into the “I need someplace or something new and different because I am bored where I am and with what I see syndrome.”  It’s nice to try to see things for the first time. Maybe that’s the issue that plagues us.

So, I always felt that seeing something for the first time was kinda naive. I know the masters always used that idea. I’m no master so I can disagree or at least think differently.

If we go out seeking something for the first time, would we recognize that anyway? Would we feel as if we found the virgin thing of vision?  Maybe, just maybe we would but….? (looks around cause this may sound crazy)… what about the second time we see that thing. Hey, what about if we see that thing many times?

How long does the first time seeing the virgin thing of vision last anyway? Let’s not even get into the time game, and just relish the first sight of the virgin thing of vision.

This brings us to the fleeting moment of visual time.  Maybe we should all strive to live in the fleeting moment of time as we seek the virgin thing of vision.

The issue for me is not the first sight of anything but the aftermath of that site. Am I now seeing a tarnished vision of the first site? THE HORROR!  This single fact of the truth of the lie and the lie of the truth puts us at the standpoint of the battle of complacency.

More very soon…

Covid 19 … The More Things Change … the More They Stay the Same

My brother Jerry told me this when we were teens.  The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same Ya know how things resonate within and without you?  Well, this fired up the resonating procedures for a long time, in fact still does. One day I was sitting back and listening to Al Stewart. I heard him sing this lyric and to this day, I can’t figure out how Al Stewart got Jerry’s lyrics.  I never saw Al at our home and for sure Jerry never went to England. It baffles me to this minute.

I’ve had other miraculous moments in my life. I won’t bore y’all with the things that amazed me in life. I just hope your open to the magic of what you breathe.

I remember clearly the first time I developed a roll of film. I was around 13 and in the basement of our home. I picked the roll up and looked closely and saw images. I mean WOW!… I actually saw images that I brought to light. I was Merlin of the Image and this was my domain. It was a feeling that totally encompassed my essence. It placed my internal compass in a direction that I felt natural and that I knew my future. The sweet beauty of that reality is present every time I release the shutter.

In fact, just the essence of making photos keeps me alive. I used to snicker at ppl that sat back on the couch, drink beer, and watch football all the time. What a waste of time I thought. I felt they were missing life mainly because they didn’t have a camera. THE HORROR!  As time passed, I mean decades, covid and politics entered my photography, I started coming to the realization that I was ok and not too crazy but LIFE was and is crazy. It’s easier to just let things pass and have little effect on you. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t see it as surrendering but see it as, “I can’t do anything about this crap, so leave me alone.”


What does this have to do with photography? Ok, I’ll explain my position. If making photos is a creative outlet, then the energy required is doing the in and out procedures. Energy enters our mind and heart and we process thru and around it to get output, namely photos. Maybe carrying a camera and making photos is our way of detaching from the crap.  I think there are many ways to detach things. But, truth be told, when I’m on the streets, I see homeless all over and it upsets me deeply. Here are people living with about nothing and they are unseen. I don’t mean the junkies. They made a choice, live with it. I don’t wanna go off, so I leave it here.

That brings the point up about our current never-ending situation. It’s not easy to rise above the politics and medical stuff. We all go thru it but shooters, need to use the camera.  Perhaps if the camera is a tool maybe it’s not a connector. But, you still deal with the energy issue. If the camera is a friend and partner in your creative endeavor, well then it’s more apt to be injured by the negative energy forced upon us.  Time to step it up and find a way to keep clean energy and spirits.


So all this chat is now at the point of clarity and direction. It’s very difficult to keep our creative energy alive and kicking in times as we live now. There must be some way out of here said the joker to the thief. My problem is that as much as I reject the bad energy and thoughts from entering my soul, the battle continues.  There is no letup and it wears me out. I will never surrender to it all but that means the battle continues.

to be cont’d …..


We are the Messengers and Poets of Society

When i was younger, there was a Mayor of Philly named, Frank Rizzo. It was 1976 and we were supposed to celebrate the Bicentennial. Everyone was looking forward to it I would walk the streets and make photos and then, then I realized… I had many shots of homeless people. Rizzo had other plans. From what I understand, he didn’t want people coming to Philly in droves. I mean, how would you screen them?

In my own way, I agreed with the mayor.  Probably not for the same reasons, but I was not into people being homeless and hungry while the elite and wealthy were unexposed. I felt the money would be better spent on shelters and food than for people to have a vacation here. 46 years later and i still feel the same.

So, back then I decided to put, my heart where my thoughts and mouth are. In my mind and heart, I was still making photos for all the guys that died in the war. They will be semi-forgotten in time. I felt a duty to make photos for them. i still do. Only now, if a shot doesn’t work, I blame them and not me. Well, I made a self mission to make photos of the homeless on the streets and send prints to the Mayor’s office. I did this weekly for years.

While I was on this mission, I got phone calls at times. One day, the Mayor called me personally and asked me to come to his office. I didn’t think twice about it and I went to his place on the arranged appointment. It took a year for this to happen. He invited me in and I was checked by an LT LEO and he said, he’s clean. I sat at the front of the desk and The Mayor told me a few things. He said you’re a good photographer. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to please everyone in the city? Yes sir but Mr. Rizzo, I make my part easy for you. You don’t have to roam the streets looking for the homeless, I bring them to your desk.

He said, how about i give you some other things to take pictures of and you let this go? I replied, you stop giving me subject matter and I’ll stop making pictures of it. I got the feeling at that moment, that he didn’t appreciate my answer. He said I tell you this, the day will never come that we don’t see the homeless on the streets. I said, Mr. Mayor, I don’t ask you to fix anything, just ask you to try. Ha asked, will you stop sending me pictures> NO! I will always and always continue for whoever is in power.

He patted my shoulder and said, I promise I will always look at every single picture you send. I also will put everyone in the city archives. Maybe you can send them every 2 weeks? It would allow me to do other things too. I left feeling, he’s not a bad man like everyone says he is. No angel but really cares about the residents.   I agreed. Then after some time, there was some work being done at some shelters. Better beds and security. Things that make even the homeless feel human.

I can’t say that anything I did was a part of the realization of the situation, but it was a step in the right direction.  Our photos may shine a light for others. I still do this mission. Maybe once a month I send files to the city. The current mayor and DA don’t care anyway.


We have the ability to express our hearts and souls because we can. Maybe that’s all that we as poets and messengers get to do.