Photography and the Looking-Glass Self

Collectively, we know them as “the homeless.” Most of us never speak to them and avoid making eye contact. -Cynthia Hubert, Sacramento Bee

The looking-glass self is a social psychological concept that states a person’s self grows out of society’s interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others. In other words, how we see ourselves does not come from who we really are, but rather from how we believe others see us.

For me, photography is an instrument of change. For example, I firmly believe that images have the power to alter the viewer’s perception of those who are homeless. More recently, I have reached the conclusion that strong images can also change how the homeless see themselves.

On the second Saturday of the month you will find me at Loaves and Fishes shooting homeless people and their pets. This is when the University of California Davis Mercer Veterinary Clinic provides the pets of homeless individuals with basic veterinary care.

I try to capture in “family portraits”, the comfort and joy that dogs bring to their homeless owners. After processing the images, the pet owners are provided with the pictures I have taken. For many owners one picture is a more than a thousand words. A single picture is also a looking-glass for owners to see the bonds of love and companionship that exist between themselves and their pets.


Hope for Homeless in Sacramento?

At 6:00 pm on January 31st, 2017, the Sacramento City Council and County Board of Supervisors met in a joint meeting in downtown Sacramento. This was the first time that these two groups had come together in over 20 years; the issue that finally brought them together: homelessness. Over 400 concerned citizens attended the meeting, approximately 100 of which hoping to speak directly to our representatives, hoping to suggest solutions to this massive problem.

This should come as a shock to no one. Homelessness has become (or does it simply continue to be?) a prominent issue in the Sacramento region. Individuals speaking on behalf of different interests– businesses, activists, landlords, nonprofits, builders, health professionals– implore our city and county officials to do something about it.

People are dying, children are sleeping outside. The time to do something is now.

After last week’s joint meeting–and for weeks, months, and years prior–The Sacramento Bee published many important articles on homelessness in Sacramento.

The following articles are taken from The Sacramento Bee throughout the last week, and highly worth reading. They are a snapshot, a point in time picture of what homelessness is right now, and how we are addressing the issue as a government and a people.

Hopefully we can look back on these articles in the future, and celebrate how far we’ve come and the solutions we have created. For now, here we are:

“Let Sacramento’s homeless sleep in Peace” Dave Kempa

“Is there hope again to find a way off Sacramento’s Streets?” Erika Smith

“Overcoming the dysfunction on homelessness” Erika Smith

“Sacramento city and county take first steps toward giving housing to homeless” Anita Chabria and Ellen Garrison

“Sacramento moves ahead on public housing for homeless, but county wants more time” Anita Chabria and Ellen Garrison