For photographer Joe Donohue, homelessness is an ongoing issue that still remains close to his heart. After having photographed YMCA street workers who were working with the homeless, Joe was instantly drawn to this sociological problem that, in his opinion, is still heavily socially stigmatized. Acting on the board of directors at St-James Drop-In Centre opened Joe's eyes to the harsh and sobering world of homelessness.
For Joe, the crux of the problem when tackling the issue of homelessness in photography is more a question of aesthetics than anything else. “I don't want to just take a photograph of a homeless man sleeping on a bench,” insisted Joe. “As photographers, we don't want our subjects to be clichéd. I don't want to be obvious.” As such, Joe has been wandering the streets of Montreal, day in and out, snapping photographs of scenes that grab his attention. He particularly enjoyed capturing the morning light on Stanley street, for example. “There is a weird aura about the picture I took,” he recalled. “The sunlight is reflected off a highrise building across the street illuminating a scene that we prefer to keep in the dark.”
Simply conversing with people living on the streets has also been somewhat of an eyeopener. “Often when I talk to the guys on the street I find that's what so many appreciate a great deal just having a conversation with somebody,” said Joe. “I don't know why that surprised me at first. Everybody wants to be acknowledged.”