‘Humans of the Street’ Takes Aim at Homelessness

Curators’ Corner

‘Humans of the Street’ Takes Aim at Homelessness

Humans of the Street Family holding each other

The social media-driven success of Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York has inspired a countless number of copycat artists in the United States and around the world. In cities such as San Antonio, Philadelphia and Paris, photographers are emulating Stanton’s simple, straightforward formula: Approach a stranger – ask a question – take a photograph.

In Montreal, photographer and Humans of New York devotee Mikaël Theimer is doing his part, but with an interesting twist. Theimer’s series, Humans of the Street, focuses entirely on the homeless population of Canada’s second largest city.

While the more fortunate lounge snugly in their warm beds tonight, roughly 30,000 homeless Montrealers are navigating sky-high snow drifts and sub-zero wind chills, desperately seeking shelter from the brutal elements. Disturbed by this unfortunate reality, Mikaël Theimer decided to reach out to Montreal’s homeless, offering something much more valuable than a few cents change – He listened.

Before taking photographs, Theimer sat down with his subjects and learned about their lives. Failures, triumphs, regrets and watershed moments were discussed – nothing was off limits. By listening, Theimer helped restore a sense of humanity the homeless so desperately needed.

“This is the big reason why we’re doing this,” Theimer told .mic. “We want to make the first step between everyday people and homeless people, we want to break the ice, make them feel like friends. Because then how can we stand to leave our friends in such a living hell?”

Theimer hopes people will view the homeless in a shining new light after viewing his photos, all of which are accompanied by thoughtful quotations from his subjects.

“I think people want to help, but they don’t know how to,” Theimer said. “In fact, more than just help, I think they want to connect with those people. Giving a dollar doesn’t cut it, it doesn’t feel like it’s of much help. Whereas if you know the guy likes his coffee with two creams and three sugars, when you bring that to him, a connection is possible. And that shines a light on the day of both parties.

“Friends support each other, and if homeless people felt supported by common citizens, they’d be more likely to fight with everything they have to get their life back in order. And they’d have help along the way, our help.”

Check out some selections from Humans of the street below. Also, don’t forget to visit the artist’s website and Facebook page.

Humans of the Street man smiling

Humans of the Street Man holding dog

Humans of the Street Portrait of a man

Humans of the Street Man looking

Photos courtesy of Mikaël Theimer