Don’t Quit Your Day Job? No Problem.

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Sonia, forty-six years old and the mother of five, is a crack addict who “sells her body for drugs.” Smart, polite, and well-spoken she told me and my friend Nina of her life-long battle with her addiction. She started when she was twenty-two, an overwhelmed single mother of three children working two jobs. She got into prostitution, becoming “a five dollar whore,” trading sex for drugs with neighborhood dealers.

 

When we asked her how much money she needs a day for the drugs she said “as much as I can. I can’t stop. I get some money, go and buy it, smoke crack, relax for thirty minutes. I have to get some more. It’s non-stop. Until I keep walking back and forth and nothing nothing nothing gives, that’s when I will say, ‘God says go home.'” She has a “significant other,” a wonderful man who’s been with her for seventeen years. He does not drink, smoke, or do any drugs.

 

She has been clean before, something she says can only come from her. She started crying telling us of the eight-year period when she was clean. “I went to a program, mothers and children, everything was great, I came out, got a job, felt good, had money.” She fell back four years ago.

 

When I asked her how she wanted to be described she responded, “I am good person with a very bad disease. If I had all the money in the world I would own all the crack in the world.”

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Ramona Zank says:

After i retire my dream is to go to Hawaii and live out the rest of my life. We went there on our 25th wedding aniversary and it was fabulous.

Oh and I’m not a Liverpool or Chelsea supporter, although the way the Liverpool fans were still singing You’ll In no way Walk alone when their team was losing and the game was almost finished was attractive. Big respect.

Fenne says:

Thanks for sharing these very strong photographs and their stories.

Jim says:

Amazing depth of work that evokes both a visual and mental feeling. Well done. J

Selena says:

The pain and the poetry. Thanks for connecting me to this work. Addiction is a real sad story and I think Chris is documenting it in a very honest way.

p.s I don’t give a shiznit about what you said when how you said what, and I don’t really care that this guy is a or was a banker.
the work speaks for itself.

Tim Roper says:

He’s not still a banker. He quit to pursue the “hobby” of wanting to live a more real and fulfilling life.

The intro to an NPR piece on him: “Disillusioned by corporate greed and his life as a Wall Street financier, Chris Arnade quit his job and devoted his time to photographing drug….”

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Please stop using “shiznit.” You are not a cheezy 90’s rapper…

I’ve settled on a Windows Phone (HTC HD7) for my main phone at the moment. I’m tempted by an iPhone, though… particularly now that I have an iPad and Macbook. Maybe next year.

Loose lips sink ships! So who was really talking?? A real boss bitch is tight lipped and private about affiliations. These bitches come off as ultra thirsty, opportunists and unloyal jaw jackers.

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JC Ruiz says:

Fantastic series of photos of people in such a troubled spot. Been around Hunt’s Point and remember seeing people similar to these out on the streets. Glad these people were able to open up and speak with the photographer so he could share their story.

Anonymous says:

Ooh pics of street people how fucking original

Garrett says:

Amazing! :-|

Mark says:

It just doesn’t add to any sort of discussion. Very one plane. I mean I don’t know. Perhaps photography is not supposed to answer any questions. And stylistically, well, there is no style… It’s just one horse pony trick. All his photos in all his work are exactly the same.

Mark says:

I like where his heart is, but the work is amateurish.

adrian says:

I enjoy the captions more than the photographs. That is the most difficult part about using photography as a medium to tell a story. Without the caption the photos themselves do not say much to me…

I really enjoy the passion of this photographer.

Adam says:

Chase, just wanted to say great work on this series… it spoke personally to me… Thanks and i enjoy following you on the various media outlets…

always get releases from everyone I shoot. even the drug addicts I collaborated with while shooting USER. For me it’s just a part of the process

happy men says:

thanks for sharing those and great work chris.
think its the story behind the pictures/ people that make

chat avrupa says:

thanks for sharing those and great work chris.
think its the story behind the pictures/ people that make the image. on first sight they all look like ordinarry people but its the story that makes them different

So powerful!
The stories and photographs are made with dignity and respect, GREAT JOB!

Moritz says:

thanks for sharing those and great work chris.
think its the story behind the pictures/ people that make the image. on first sight they all look like ordinarry people but its the story that makes them different.

find it great that you as well write about other photographers and give them a chance to be seen by your viewers. see if i am lucky enough one day to be one of those ;)

moritz

http://www.mostphotography.blogspot.com

do you need to get a model release when doing these kinda photos

Tony Fouhse says:

I always get releases from everyone I shoot. even the drug addicts I collaborated with while shooting USER. For me it’s just a part of the process.

Chris Arnade says:

I do not get a written release form. I tell everyone explicitly what my project is, tell them I will be posting their pictures, and then go back and show them what I have written. If they object I will remove the picture. If I feel they are to high or drugged out to understand, I go back to find them when they are cogent. Or I do not post

All the proceeds from my pictures goes to Hunts Point Alliance for Children. I do not sell the pictures for personal gain.

Arne says:

Thanks for this post. I did not quit my day job either, but i must say photography for me is more than a hobby – this is my passion http://www.photodestination.co.za

matt blassey says:

his series is the most powerful inadvertent anti-drug message i’ve ever seen

Masahiko F says:

Thank you. Such an interesting series and so different than many of the photos one sees of the homeless or others on the street. Real stories to go along with nice photos, not just well composed photos of some nameless homeless person with no other context.

Dave says:

Pretty great shots. Reminds me of Tony Fouhse’s stuff.

Tony Fouhse says:

Yes, thanks Dave. (Here’s a link to what he’s referring to:http://tonyfoto.com/#/USER/user1/1)

John Barclay says:

Very powerful images and stories. I could not stop looking at each one and that rarely happens. Typically I stop after 10-15 images and move onto something else. This drew me in. Great work Chris.

Great stories told.. Loving this.

Chase thank you for post here!
I have an exhibition on homelessness that will begin on March 21 of a man whom I followed for six months and brought me a lot. The photograph now will allow me to educate others, especially young because my photos are in a permanent exhibition inside a school teenager for a year!

Hats off to Chris Arnade for his work but also listening BRAVO

Thank you Chase, Steve

Terrence says:

Whew!

Chase this was excellent, thanks for sharing this, I found the photos and the stories along with them very touching and moving. It so sad to me how so many view people like the ones featured above and useless and meaningless, Chris’ photography and stories really impacted me on a very human level.

Jay Cordary says:

Just wanted to thank Chris, what great glimpses of dignity, humanity and humility he has afforded us with his eyes and ears.

Honest and powerful images. Great work Chris Arnade! Thanks for sharing Chase.

Paul Treacy says:

“I don’t verify, just listen.” – That’s very good. I like that.

Mário Pires says:

Forgot to tell that i have a “day job” too.

Mário Pires says:

I have made photo projects ever since i started to get the basic knowledge right, it’s a question of passion, drive and ressources management.

This current project of mine is made with the good will of everybody that accepted being photographed by me in very simple sessions:

http://booklovingirls.tumblr.com/

Jonathan Davis says:

I actively follow Chris on flickr and cannot wait for his next post. I came across it first from one of the blogs that I read. I am astounded at the simplicity of the photos and the stories behind them. It really goes to show that people can do great things with their photography.

John says:

Strong images in support of an equally powerful story for each of these people. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for these people in difficult situations.

Calvin says:

Yep, I remember becoming homeless after trying to do photography full time straight out of college…. Good times. You’re right, don’t quit your day jobs.

Tony Bayliss says:

Great images, you can really see the connection you’ve made with the subjects.

Dustin says:

WOW… Lets just hope the people in the photos aren’t too pissed off that they’re now being outted as prostitutes and maybe also hope that the NYPD doesn’t decide to start monitoring these people because of it…

Good thing this banker doesn’t need to change his name and use an Alias…

Lori Rowles says:

Seriously, tthe first thing that enters my mind with each story is “Fu*%”. Powerful and tragic. Makes me flash back to when I was living on Capital Hill in Seattle. How can I have so much and these souls so little? It’s not right….
Thanks for sharing and reminding me of how lucky I am.

Chris Arnade says:

Thanks

A few things. My name is misspelled, its Chris Arnade.

In addition I can be followed on Twitter @Chris_Arnade

Thanks again for highlight.

Chase says:

awesome Chris – corrected the typo and linked to your twitter handle!

great work – keep it up

marc says:

really incredible stuff, dude!

Loreen says:

Touching. Heartbreaking. Beautiful. Thanks for posting this.

roman a says:

powerful series. made me think twice about complaining about my “problems.” overall, I don’t think I’d have the balls to cover something so tragic. maybe one day.

Leo says:

Funny, I remember reading this : “1. Declare yourself a photographer. That’s what you ARE in life. You’re not a student, not a finance-guy-slash-part-time-photographer, not a part time anything.”

;-)

Tim says:

Ya I remember reading the same thing. So what are you trying to say Chase?

Chase says:

hmmm. not sure about the confusion on this point. I thought i was being clear that…

a. if you want to be a PROFESSIONAL photographer, then you’d best call yourself a photographer and go for it; and

b. if you want to be a photographer with a day job, then totally cool – you can stlll have tons of impact like Chris here…

marc says:

Maybe he’s a finance guy AND a photographer. DUH! Why does money have to be the validation of photographers?

I love raw street photography at its core – Amazing stuff, although I am terrible at street photography and I find it most inspiring to the more controlled stuff I do. thanks for the links!

Thanks for posting these, Chase. As an addiction counselor/therapist myself (day job for 12 years) and a street photographer at heart, I’ve had similar encounters…and they are both rewarding and distrubing…this photographer deserves great praise for being willing to approach, connect with, and document this suffering and validating the humanity that is ALWAYS there…no matter how tragic and terrible the circumstances. Wow…I love the way he asks THEM how they want to be described…

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