Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Addicted


A modern tragedy
Montreal, QC, August 2008 [Click to enlarge]


The scene: I've just finished an appointment and am walking back to the Metro (subway) to head home. From across the street, I see someone sitting in the middle of an otherwise empty and run-down concrete plaza on a busy street corner just to the east of Montreal's downtown core. From afar, this person looks homeless. A couple of dogs wander around the dull gray landscape.

As I approach, I decide the dogs look sweetly out of place in this urban jungle. So I use my zoom to capture them from afar. The person - now clearly a she - has no idea I'm there.

Against my better judgment, I adjust my lens toward her and squeeze. The thought of a solitary, anonymous figure, ignored by everything around her seems to match this week's Thematic Photographic theme, poignant. I quietly retreat and continue on my way. So engrossed is she in whatever she's doing that she never looks up.

Only later, as I review the images on my camera's screen, do I realize what I've captured. As I was shooting, the sun was too bright for me to realistically assess the results. Now I see the stark reality: an addict shooting up in broad daylight, in full view of anyone who passes by.

I feel more than a little sick about it. But in the end I decide it's a scene that must be shared for a variety of reasons, the least of which as a reminder of how little separates the lives of the haves from the lives of the have nots.

Your turn: Do you find this jarring? Why? I'll post a new Thematic Photographic theme later on Wednesday evening. In the meantime, we're still taking poignant-themed submissions here.

59 comments:

swampy said...

This photo makes my chest hurt ! The tatoo "tracks" on her arm symbolize the "tracks" the needle has and will make.
She looks just like any other gal you might meet on the street. One, who makes me want to do something for her.
It's ironic that I've just finished watching "The Bucket List" again and the 'theme' was finding joy in your life. I'm glad I have joy in my life, but the question I must ask myself is how do I help someone else find joy in theirs. Just like the young lady your camera lens found...may someone find her and help her find joy in her life.

Mojo said...

"Jarring" is one word for it. "Poignant" certainly fits as well. But what's most telling is that this girl has clearly gone past the point of caring. Either that or she feels the world is past the point of caring about her. And the saddest part of that is that she very well may be right. I forget if it was here or on Gord's blog that I quoted Kathleen Edwards' lyric: "You don't have to believe what stays out of your world."

You capture some incredible images Carmi... and this one may be one of the best.
-Mojo

Mycrazylife said...

I'm glad you shared this Carmi. Too many people forget that this is reality for some folks. There may be a life full of pain and ugly just around the corner from the blessed life. And though it be uncomfortable to look, we need to not overlook that which is uncomfortable. You'll never know what your one action or kind word might do for another.

b13 said...

Sad and sickening. I wonder if her family or friends will see this and recognize her. :(

Lyndon said...

The image should be jarring!

But sadly I think too many of us have been desensitized by a variety of graphic pics in the media.

It's good that you posted this pic though. Too many people get forgotten and end up slipping through the cracks. Maybe it will help inspire people to help their fellow man/woman.

Barb said...

Jarring, disturbing, and you were right to post it. I can imagine your reaction when you looked at the downloaded image. If it was anything like mine when I opened your blog it was a mix of shock/sadness/pit-of-the-stomach sick, tempered with compassion and and prayer.

You have an incredible knack for photographing reality, Carmi, the upsides and the downsides. Thanks for providing that window.

kenju said...

Jarring in the extreme, Carmi. How sad that she and others like her have become mired in the mud of drug addiction.

Moon Rani said...

I was wondering where you were, Carmi. It's nice to see you again. What a powerful photo this is. I'm sure this isn't how this girl's parents saw her future the first time they held her in their arms when she was born.

Pamela said...

I was hoping it was an insulin shot... but I see the little tourniquet (or whatever you call it)

Makes a mother's heart ache.

Ryanne said...

It is a heart breaking thing to see someone's life come down to this, no matter what road led her to this place. This is definitely a poignant shot, more so, than you had probably realized at first.
Makes me wonder what her life was, how she got there and who, if any, is out there looking for her, hoping she is ok.
Thank you for posting this, it really made me stop and think.

Yen said...

That's disturbing! Nice entry and reality bites;)

Aaron said...

That definitely made me stop in my tracks, so to speak. The description was well written also, you set the scene very well. Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully share this startling image.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

OMG. For a brief moment I thought that was my SIL bc of the tattoos. I don't think I am going to be able to sleep tonight. I would say great capture, but that feels wrong somehow.

mammadawg.com said...

Looking at that photo makes me wonder where she came from, wonder what had happened to her to make her cross the line and into the world she's in now.

And how did she let herself get here...

You have an amazing talent in journaling your thoughts... Glad I dropped by.

Rizza said...

this is a sad reality that's happening anywhere in the world right now. they have their own reasons but i hope she'll find peace in the end of it all.

Leonard said...

oh gosh! this is kinda bad...

Happy WW!

Eds said...

Very disturbing! I pitty her really...

my wordless is here - http://edsmommylife.com/?p=555

hope to see u there, for some uplifting :)

smarmoofus said...

This one definitely can be described as poignant. And I'm having an off day. Feeling a bit overwhelmed now. Time for some creative outletting (*scowl at spellchecker* ACCEPT IT! It's a word now!)... music just isn't quite doing the trick tonight. Blargh. I will stop venting on your commentspace. (*another scowl* That's a word, too! Mygosh!)

-smarmoofus

Richard said...

I suppose it just depends on where you grew up. I used to live in Midtown Atlanta and this isn't a strange scene at all. It doesn't make it any easier to have to watch but it's certainly more commonplace than people think, just in suburbia the hide in their bathrooms :)

Happy WW!

June said...

Very distressing...it doesn't get much more poignant than this! A great shot...in so many ways.

Heather said...

I think this is a good post, Carmi. And I agree with the comments before me ... so sad :( ...

I've worked with homeless in LA ... on Skid Row ... and I imagine that she has, as someone said above, given up caring and feels like the world has given up caring about her. And, unfortunately, she's right to a large extent.

Seeing shots like this does something to my soul. It's not the same as seeing some glamorization of it in the media. This is raw life. Thanks for posting it.

Beverly said...

Oh, that makes me so sad. I can just imagine your feelings when you saw what you had captured with your camera.

keiki3 said...

Very powerful photo...

PillowNaut said...

Very powerful, yet so very melancholy a moment, made all the more compelling in that you didn't know what all you were capturing at the time. Came today to look at the past few pictures, couldn't look away from this one.

Lynda said...

Yes, very disturbing. It's sad and it's wrong. It's painful and dramatic.

In a way, it seems wrong to display this photo, yet it's part of life.

I am not sure what I would've done had I taken this photo and seen this personally. Perhaps I would've called the cops... the ramifications set off a whole other set of ideas, but I don't like the idea of letting this go.

Thanks for making me think this morning.

Urban Thought said...

I've seen this earlier in life, not as of late though. After all these years people are still shooting up trying to get that next fix. When you have to do it you have no shame just as long as you get your hit.

Glad you took the time to capture the photo. It definitely needs to be shared with the people.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

I hope we are never desensitized by SAD photos like this. I have only recently realized how REAL and all consuming drug addiction is they give up their money, their freedom, their children, their self-respect and dignity - SO she is only thinking about the 'need' to get that 'feeling' so she is unaware of you -- the dogs or the world who 'barely' sees her. but she is a PERSON and deserves to be seen and who needs love.

Laurie said...

This hurts.

I find it shocking and disgusting. I think she even appears to be pregnant which, if that is the case, makes me want to scream.

Allison Says said...

Wow...that really is a poignant photo. It is so sad to think that someone could put themselves through that--and in broad daylight! I hope she has people that care about her somewhere.

Thanks for sharing, Carmi.

Linda said...

Sometimes you capture things that you just don't want to...but sharing it is something that needed to be done. This photo brings to the forefront an issue that is often ignored, like an elephant in the room. How many others have seen her doing this...and just walked by? Why did no one call the authorities on her? Maybe she'll get the help she needs....

~Just Me~ said...

It's a good shot, despite the sadness, as her life will spiral downwards.

B Boys Mom said...

This is unbelieveable and so very sad! I'm at a loss for words.

aoitenshi said...

It's amazing how you were able to capture this scene. It's pretty shocking to me to see that being done in broad daylight, right on the streets.

Camera Totin' Idiot said...

Sad and disturbing. I see this image and thank God my children are clean, sober and safe.

Gord H. said...

carmi,

you wrote that later you saw "the stark reality: an addict shooting up in broad daylight".

i'm glad you shared the photo.

reality, perhaps the real world, is stark.

for many reason(s) we shy away from the 'stark side' and governments, cultures and institutions make an effort to protect us from stark e.g., practical discussions about death and dying (the funeral industry will take care of all of your needs), the causes of poverty and our part in them, the amount of garbage we produce annually (ever heard of a school trip to the local dump?), etc.

one photograph can often open our eyes to a broader, more realistic view of life - and it is needed.

well done.

gord h.

gpc said...

It is so sad, and I think often how little it takes to lose direction, and to end up being the one on the street instead of the one walking by.

R. Sherman said...

It's hard to comment on something like this. I know there are many people like this, who wind up where they are as a result of a myriad of bad choices. I want to reach out to them but there are so many that its difficult to know where to start and what to do.

Hayley Townley, Breast Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire said...

Wow. My stomach is in knots for this poor girl.
Thanks for not being afraid to share something like this. It happens all around us, let us not be ignorant to it, and remember to have compassion for others. Everybody is fighting some sort of battle.

Holly Schwendiman said...

:(

Hugs,
Holly

Thumper said...

Perhaps even sadder than this woman shooting up in broad view is that I don't find it jarring, or even unusual. I suppose it depends on where you live...sights like that tend to happen quite often out here.

Marsha said...

I hope I never become so acclimated to such scenes that a picture like this would just be ho-hum to me. It is a sad reflection on how so many deal with life today.

Thanks for the dose of reality... I think we need that from time to time.

the teach said...

Sorry, Carmi, I haven't been around for a while but your description of your WW post on the Linky list made me curious. I can't believe you were able to take this shot without her looking up and telling you to go away...but I guess you're right she was so intent on what she was doing that she didn't notice you. I'm glad she's anonymous - you can't see her face.

Mike Wood said...

Nice shot. I don't find stuff like that jarring. Real. Sad. Intense. Disturbing... perhaps. Reminded me of the American photographer Larry Clark. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Clark
I don't have the stones right now to shoot something like that. And with my style of photography I wouldnt want to be shooting at a distance. I would prefer up close and with the knowledge and consent of the subject. And I am not to sure if that would be a can of worms legally.

Newlyweds Guide Francesca said...

This is so disturbing. It's disturbing that drugs are so important to her and she thinks so little of herself that she's willing to shoot up in broad daylight. It's so disturbing that she seems to be all alone when she seems to be crying out for help. The one thing that is not disturbing is your decision to publish this on the Internet. It will certainly get people talking and make us aware that the drug problem still exists. People need help. And we all must do our part. I too hope someone helps the lady in the photo to find joy, get clean, and contribute to the world in a more positive way.

JumpBack! said...

Wow, there's a powerful image if there ever was one. I'd say the image was jarring, too. What an eye Carmi.

Chad Oneil Myers said...

Carmi,
First of all, thank you very much for choosing my entry for the "Caption This". I appreciated the plug and link you gave me!


This image is very sad to me. She's all alone there, just her and the needle that she looks to.

I wonder what she would think if she knew that she'd been captured on camera doing that? Would she be ashamed?

Awareness said...

Numbing.......like she is trying to accomplish.

She is one of us. May we never forget that.

swile67 said...

Powerful...I believe you were meant to take that pic...amazing how she doesn't care she is in the open- she just needs to get that hit into her...very sad. Makes me thankful for the life I have. Thanks for sharing this with us. May we never forget.

Teena in Toronto said...

Wow! What a picture! It's too bad she's in such a sad situation.

surcie said...

I don't think you should feel guilty about the shot. Think of it as photo-journalism. It conveys so much.

Vesper de Vil said...

the word that stands out to me in your post is "shooting"...you were both shooting in your own ways...

Heidi said...

Wow.

What goes through my mind is that she was once someone's baby... precious and innocent. What happened? It makes me want to pray for children even more... and for all those, like this woman, who need help.

Joy T. said...

It's hard to tell but in my eyes she looks like a young woman. As a mom to a daughter who just turned 20 I can't tell you how much your photo affects me. I am so grateful for the children I have and I want to believe this young woman has a family at home who loves her too. I hope she finds her way back to them. An excellent photo Carmi, it's so sad yet needs to be out there.

h+b said...

God, that made my stomach flip :/

Sometimes I think I must live in a bubble..

Prego said...

I don't know what's more kick-a**: your camera or your keen eye, but that blue hair is just wrong for that green top.

That issue aside, is that blood in the syringe? I think that is what kind of gives me the willies. It's also striking to see the spoon in the little tupperware jobber.


Yeah, that's a sad thing to see. My friend and I were just discussing drug addiction, since, sadly, there's a small crew who apparently like the nose candy.

I've had friends addicted to that h-crap. One of them died after supposedly kicking it... I often wonder if his body just gave out after that whole nightmare. Though I don't wish the poor creature in your photo any ill-will, you reap what you sow, baby. Time to patch up any issues you had with your family, take the hardware out of your face, let your locks grow and get a job bringing sandwiches to those crafty performers at Cirque-du-Soleil.

Love,
p

YellowRose said...

Hi Carmi, I saw this photo on your Flickr and wanted to comment...it was more than jarring to me, it hurt my heart. I can imagine how it felt when you looked through your photos and saw this, as a parent we all have that parental feeling that automatically makes you wonder what on earth went wrong with this young woman that made her take this path. I hope she finds peace before it's too late for her.

I'm glad you shared this, sometimes we forget how ugly the world is right outside our door.

Vhiel said...

this is an interesting photo... makes me just want to start walking and just take picture of people I see.. very nice.. but unfortunately, the scenario is something that is bothering.

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Independent Chick said...

My jaw dropped and I said jeez out loud... I could say so much but at the same time, there is little that can be said. Once can only hope that someday she will see her value in life. That it will happen before it's too late.

Mark said...

I guess I don't know enough about this, but do we know for certain that she isn't injecting herself with a perfectly legal substance? Does use of a tourniquet like that always indicate something illicit is happening? I suppose so, but just thought I would throw that out there.