Danny – BW$P

Danny by Justin Korn

Meet Danny.

While out shooting in North Beach for My Surrounding Neighborhoods project, I came across a very kind man playing the harmonica (didn’t catch his name) asking for change at the corner of Columbus and Green.  As I walked by, we made eye contact and he stopped playing in order to chat with me.  “Hey man, can you help me out at all?”  I replied to him describing my Dollar Portrait Project and he asked if I could give him $5.  I explained to him that the project was specifically for $1.  When I thought he agreed, knowing I didn’t have a dollar on me, I told him I’d be right back.  I went into a nearby restaurant, broke a larger bill for change, and headed back to the corner.

Upon arrival, the man told me he didn’t want his picture taken, but he knew someone who wouldn’t mind.  He called over Danny who was actually waiting outside of the restaurant I was just in.  He came running over and the other guy explained to him, “This man will give you a dollar for a picture for his project.”  Danny was nothing but smiles and agreed immediately.  Unfortunately, lighting wasn’t good, so the picture above is a bit grainy (taken at 1600 ISO) and slightly blurred (taken at 1/10 of a second), but I did the best I could, placing Danny next to a large advertisement providing some light so I could take the picture without my on-camera flash.

After I took Danny’s picture and gave him the promised dollar, I asked him how long he’d be in San Francisco.  “16 long years, can you believe it?”  I told him I couldn’t and asked where he was prior to.  He told me he came over from Alabama.  I continued pressing asking him if he came straight across or if he stopped anywhere between.  Danny responded simply, “That’s a long story,” so I asked him to give me the short version.  He quickly explained that he took crate trains across the country until he made it to San Francisco.  When I asked if he had a place to go to in the evening, he said, “I stay here and there.  Sometimes I stay at this nice place that is $12 per night, but that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing…I also get a dose of Methadone, since I’m not shooting anymore, and that cost me $10 per day.  I’m doing what I can, you know?”  I responded, “Good for you!  Glad to hear you are taking care of yourself.”  He told me he was waiting for a guy to come out of the restaurant because he was going to give him some food, so he wanted to head back over to the door.  I let him go and wished him well, shaking his hand as I walked away.

As I passed the original corner (we had been slowly walking toward the restaurant the entire time), the original guy said, “that seemed to go well.”  I agreed and thanked him.  He responded, “You have a great night now,” and I wished him well back.

This image is part of my Black and White Dollar Portrait (BW$P) Project.

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Categorized: Projects