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Face to face with the homeless

Derek Slevin calls his years-long photographic project “Faces of the Forgotten.” Starting in 2012, the project has taken him to skid rows and homeless encampments in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, sometimes for days at a time. “I’ve met thousands of homeless people, shot 300 to 400 portraits,” he says.

Slevin picks a location — there are,unfortunately, dozens of possibilities in California’s cities — and starts walking, carrying a camera and a tripod, looking to make a connection with just one person who is willing to sit for a portrait.

“I introduce myself. I ask their names and let them know what I’m doing. They have to be coherent; they have to sign releases. Sometimes they say yeah, sometimes they say no.”

What happens once Slevin frames the shot is entirely up to the subject. He carries no props, offers no stage direction, does no Photoshopping.

“The images are what they are,” he says. “Someone’s mom, or brother, or son. A story that needs to be told.”

Charles

San Diego, 2014 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Tiffany

Los Angeles, 2014 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

David

San Diego, 2014 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Harry

Los Angeles, 2014 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Sherry

San Diego, 2013 Special to The Times

Christopher

San Francisco, 2014 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Cindy

San Diego, 2015 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Oscar

San Diego, 2013 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Marilyn

Los Angeles, 2012 Derek Slevin / Special to The Times

Photographer Derek Slevin lives in San Diego.

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