When I began "The Invisible Ones" project over a year ago I decided that I would try to keep in touch with some of the individuals that have allowed me to photograph them for this project. This is no easy task as the nature of homelessness in Washington, DC is you have no fixed address. You can see the chronology of the previous photos by following the links below.
I first met Michael over a year ago in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. He was sitting on a retaining wall in front of an apartment building. He could be heard long before he was seen as he was yelling at nothing in particular in a very loud baritone voice. It was virtually impossible to speak with Michael as he would not or could not stop yelling. Michael was quite mentally ill and clearly in need of mental health care. I told him that I wanted to take his photograph and would give him a few granola bars and a bottle of water in return. He didn't disagree so I got my photo and moved along.
I found Michael again in December of that same year several miles from his previous location in the NorthEastern part of DC. He was every bit as psychotic and delusional as he was at our earlier meeting. Added to his thought disorder was an agitated behavior. He was running back and forth in front of a storefront under construction, putting his face against the window and yelling at no one in particular. There was a coffee shop nearby, so I bought a coffee to offer him as a way to interrupt his mania long enough to engage him. He at least stood still for a minute, took a few power bars and agreed to let me have a photograph. As with the previous meeting in the Summer, having a coherent conversation was impossible as Michael was off and running after drinking his coffee and gobbling down the power bars.
This was Michael on July 18, 2014. I found him on 19th & M Streets, South of Dupont Circle, again many miles from where he was in December. Things have changed for Michael, he is not overtly psychotic, he has gained weight and is now panhandling by politely asking passersby if they could help him out. I told him that I had seen him twice before in other parts of the city. He says that he can't remember yesterday let alone last year. I comment on his improved mental health and he just laughs uproariously. He will not say if he is receiving treatment of any kind. He does say that he lives in a small space behind a building nearby and makes enough panhandling to eat at least one meal a day. He worries about what he'll do when Winter comes. I gave Michael a few dollars for which he thanked me by shaking my hand and saying that he'll remember my name the next time he sees me. We'll see how that turns out.