When I came upon Clarence I was actually doing a commercial photo shoot of the exterior of a restaurant in Chinatown, Washington, DC. It was early morning with not much traffic yet on the sidewalks. Clarence spotted me from across the street and came running toward me. Quite a sight, this 300 lb, 6 foot plus man yelling, “hey Mr. camera man.” Fortunately Clarence was willing to wait patiently until I finished my building shots and then told me how he was looking to get some money together for some breakfast. As luck would have it I had my collection of food vouchers in my bag and traded breakfast for this photograph.
Clarence suffers from some sort of neurological deficit that was caused by a severe head injury. He points to the horizontal scar running across his forehead but can’t remember what or when it happened. As best as I could tell in speaking with Clarence he sleeps in doorways around Chinatown and tries to panhandle during the day for food. He says he has a short temper and gets mad at people which often gets him in trouble with the police. While he was pleasant enough with me, one can imagine that he could be quite intimidating. Clarence is more unfortunate than most of the homeless on the streets of DC given his disability. Sadly it also makes him more invisible than most.