Self-taught photographer Lee Jeffries has travelled around the world to take photographs of homeless people. Jeffries has been photographing the homeless since 2008. He wanders the streets in search for subjects, accompanied by his camera and a small handheld reflector. Using natural lighting to illuminate his subjects, Jeffries creates spontaneous portraits of these individuals.
Jeffries explained on BuzzFeed, “I go to an area, Overtown in Miami for example, and immerse myself in the community. I walk the streets, eat and sleep there for weeks at a time. I become part of that community. It’s because of that I’m able to develop deep connections.”
“I never ask for a photograph without spending time with them. I’m not there to take photographs. I’m getting something far more personal from the interaction if I’m honest. My own loneliness is somehow [desensitized] by theirs. It’s hard to explain and probably even harder to comprehend…but it keeps me going out there. Once those connections are made, the moments I capture with the camera become spontaneous.”
Jeffries has seen his fair share of tears, laughter, joy, loneliness and death. He recalls, “The last time I was in Miami I was with a group of prostitutes in the Overtown area. They all looked out for each other but they were hopelessly addicted to heroin. One of the times I was there, one of the group…had just been released from prison. I watched as she injected herself. A few hours later she was dead. I’ve seen a lot but I doubt I will ever get over that experience.”