This is Ray

Ray is a homeless man in his early 60s living on the streets of Washington, DC. He locates himself near the FBI building during the night and roams the streets during the day. Ray is also quite mentally ill, making it difficult to sort out fact from delusions in his conversation. He seemed to know quite a bit about cameras, lenses and other photography jargon and said that at one point he was an engraver at the Government Printing Office. Who knows if that is the case but it serves as the basis for his paranoia and fear that he will be killed. He sleeps near the FBI building for protection. Ray will not or cannot discuss his psychiatric illness but it seems clear that he is not currently receiving any treatment. He does not panhandle aggressively, instead he places his cup on the sidewalk and retreats into his blanket. Given that he is not entirely unkempt, I suspect he drops into a shelter from time to time. He asked me to take the photo before I bought it up. His reason being that he wanted to demonstrate his ability to communicate his thoughts by looking into the lens and by extension my mind. When I told him I didn’t get anything, he simply said, “most people don’t.” Being homeless is hard enough, adding a serious mental illness to the mix seems to me to be more than any human should have to bear.


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