I met Kent near Jackson Square in New Orleans. I was killing time on my way to a scheduled photowalk, and he had a friendly personality. He was talking about having just gotten off a 16 hr train ride and needing some coffee.
We walked together for a few blocks to a PJs coffee shop while he told me dirty jokes and greeted women with compliments or a little song that ended with something like “please don’t turn back and give me the finger.” I got us both ham and cheese croissants and a coffee for him only, since I already had one from Envie, near my hotel.
We then walked back, with Kent greeting and singing, to sit on a bench and eat our breakfast. I asked about what it’s like to hobo on trains, how you jump off, what it’s like living rough. He told me a few stories about getting injured on a construction job in Virginia, some tales of his younger life, how he made his poncho from a blanket. He said he looks like the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly all in one. He also had some complaints about being ticketed for petty crimes when he and the police both know he’s not going to pay.
I normally don’t photograph homeless people. I think it’s exploitive (I have some examples which I sometimes regret in my New York photo set.) I’d rather shoot regular people, or people to whom I’ve spoken. I told Kent this when he mentioned my camera and asked if I’d like to take his photo. At that point we had been together for about 45 minutes.
I took several shots; he asked how I wanted him to look. I think this photos shows a little how Kent was.
More photos from this project are available on the street portraits project page.