Thursday, March 06, 2008

Finding Grace: The Face of America's Homeless: Photographs by Lynn Blodgett

I have mixed feeling about the new book Finding Grace: The Face of America's Homeless, a big photo collection by Lynn Blodgett. To its credit, it is large and impossible to miss as it sits on the new book display. Within its pages are between ninety and a hundred portraits of people from outside shelters across the United States, many from warmer states like Arizona or California. An introduction by Marian Wright Edelman gives a quick report on homelessness in our country, which should help spread the message that the homeless need help.

What bothers me is the selection of subjects and some of the photographs. Blodgett tells in his postscript how he asked some of the subjects to remove coats and shirts to get striking photos, showing the true person. The result is some very scary photos. I have not seen people who look this menacing at the shelters where I have volunteered. I can imagine some people would think twice before going into a room with these people. I do not think Blodgett meant to do this. Perhaps his sense of photographic art mislead his sense of mission.

Edelman in her introduction and Blodgett in his postscript highlight that there are many children and families seeking shelter and food, and the photographer does include some photos of families and children. There are also a few photos of people who do not look homeless at all. I wish there were more of these, as I think they represent a larger portion of the people in need than Blodgett has allotted.

The book might be good for discussions. I am sure people will disagree with me.

Blodgett, Lynn. Finding Grace: The Face of America's Homeless. Earth Aware, 2007. ISBN 9781601091055

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