John (#47) 7-28-12

I walked by a park that is frequented by the homeless in Tampa. A nearby office building was being evacuated for some kind of a drill, and a television truck was on site, complete with extended boom and antennas.

John was sitting on a bench next to a stuffed duffel bag. I approached him and explained the 100 Strangers project - he did not look at me, but shook his head No. While looking anywhere except at me, he said that he looked bad and currently had no home. I said that he looked Ok and that his eyes looked nice and clear. He gestured a slight push-away motion and said, "no magazines, no newspapers". I said that I was unaffiliated with newspapers and law enforcement.

Then I realized the problem; he saw the television truck and assumed that I was somehow associated with the press. I have learned the hard way that anyone who has had a brush with the law, or U.S. Customs and Immigration, is fearful of photographers. Perhaps with reason.

   (click to enlarge)

Anyway, after several seconds he shrugged and looked at me for a photo (I thought). After a few clicks, I asked if he would like a print from my pocked printer. He said no, that he didn't like how he looked. Sad. I gave him a few dollars and went on my way. After viewing the images on my computer, I don't think that he was looking exactly at me.