In 2008, Franco Folini photographed a young couple on the way to work. They were sitting on the corner of 6th Street and Mission in San Francisco. Franco saw them several times before around town. On this particular day, he stopped to talk to them. The young women said she was sad and concerned about their situation.
Franco gave them a few dollars and they let him take the picture. Franco entitled the photograph “Homeless Couple With Dog in San Francisco”. A few weeks after the photograph was taken, Franco received word that Jamie, the young man in the photograph, had died.
I recently discovered this photograph, with its powerful imagery, and was moved to write a poem from it. I wanted to express something inside myself about the homeless, and this photo helped release those feelings. I lived in the Bay Area, years ago, and I still remember how chilly and damp the nights got. The photo expresses sadness, desperation, hunger, discomfort, and a lonely sense of togetherness as their dog enjoys a warm petting from a friend.
Franco Folini moved to San Francisco from Italy in 2001. He has a degree in computer science, and in Italy, taught at the Mechanical Engineering Facility at the University of Parma. He says he sees homeless everyday going to work and coming home. He enjoys talking to them, learning their names and listening to their stories. He says they are all very nice people and he never assumes to be better then them. He believes his photos raise awareness about the homeless and I am looking forward to his future works.
The number of homeless in Los Angeles County, by the way, is nearly 100,000. Check out Franco Folini’s photostream on Flickr to see his photo gallery.
On Mission Street
Surviving the streets of San Francisco,
Cold damp nights, foggy mornings flow
into grey days, wondering where next meal
comes from, homeless, no money, steal
maybe, deal with despair, on Mission Street.
Over six thousand strong in The City,
without homes, no one knows, audacity
to throw them out to the curb,
no one should be without a home, perturb
indulgence succumb to success,
university degree, flaunts to promise
a wonderful life, fulfillment opulent
above the rest, pay your student loan
and leave us alone, unemployment atone
for broken promise, system failed, delete,
economic downturn shifts for the elite
one percent, while the couple on the street
earns enough to keep their dog blanket comfort seat.
S. Blair Fox