Homelessness in Los Angeles: Five Questions with Photographer Gaelle Morand

Homelessness in Los Angeles: Five Questions with Photographer Gaelle Morand

Why was it important for you to undertake this project?
It was important to undertake this project because I have seen many of these men and women in my Downtown neighborhood for many years now. Over the years, I have befriended a few. They are without a doubt the most vulnerable citizens. Some desperately need housing and some are more shelter resistant, but all are in need of some form of assistance. I wanted to put a human face on this difficult issue. Documenting the stories of these men and women who feel invisible to the outside world seemed a good step towards bridging the gap between awareness and action in the community at large.

Which is your favorite photograph and why?
There are many favorites, but I am most fond of the simple headshots. They reveal the subjects' personalities with understated honesty.

How was your perception of homelessness in Los Angeles either strengthened or challenged through your work?
There is a lot of work to do and it's important for everyone to get involved. The community needs the resources necessary for lasting change. Creating permanent supportive housing is key, Home For Good's plan of action answers a lot of these issues. My work with homeless people in LA, as well as organizations like Home for Good, has actually made me more optimistic about possibilities for the future.

What story were you hoping to convey through your photographs?
All of the subjects have stories, and it shows in their faces. Ultimately, I wanted to convey that these men and women who struggle to survive in our community aren't invisible.

Was there anything that surprised you through this process? (Story, people, process itself, etc.)
I was amazed by the authenticity of the subjects; no one felt the need to pose for the photographs.  Furthermore, the willingness of these men and women to be part of this project was very touching.
It was an extremely enriching and gratifying experience. Two of the women I photographed ended up getting housing with the help of David Hamlin of the Business Leaders Task Force, Molly Rysman of Skid Row Housing Trust and Leslie Wise of Community Solutions. I am still in touch with the women and seeing their lives dramatically transformed for the better is uplifting.

Gaelle Morand's photographs depict a poignant and compassionate face of homelessness in Los Angeles County. Many of her stunning photos were recently featured at our Home For Good Summit this past February. To view more of Gaelle's photos visit: www.gaellemorand.com


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