Faces of Capitol Hill | Shopping Cart Sean

Sean has been living on the streets of Capitol Hill for about 10 years and says he'd like to get off them one day. “Capitol Hill is a cool neighborhood. It has everything I need and is centrally located. The cost of housing is ridiculous and sometimes overly opinionated people go out of the way to mess with you because they don’t like what you do or who you are, but there’s a lot of good people up here.” (Image: Tim Durkan for CHS)

Sean has been living on the streets of Capitol Hill for about 10 years and says he’d like to get off them one day. “Capitol Hill is a cool neighborhood. It has everything I need and is centrally located. The cost of housing is ridiculous and sometimes overly opinionated people go out of the way to mess with you because they don’t like what you do or who you are, but there’s a lot of good people up here.” (Image: Tim Durkan for CHS)

Photographer Tim Durkan is a regular contributor to CHS. This is a new series on CHS dedicated to capturing the faces and the stories of people on Capitol Hill. You can view more of Durkan’s work at facebook.com/timdphotos.

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19 thoughts on “Faces of Capitol Hill | Shopping Cart Sean

  1. I wish these posts had more background information. These people must have compelling stories to tell, and I would be interested to know how circumstances have led them to where they are now.

    What path leads one there? Is it mainly bad luck, bad choices, mental health issues, substance abuse, or all of the above? How many wrong turns are people away from not having an assured roof over their head? I assume it’s fewer than we generally think, but it would be informing to hear it from people that are experiencing it.

  2. Not this series again. Without a story attached to the photo, this series of biographies is just very belittling to the homeless and/or addicted. I mean, what, are they objects to gawk at? Don’t they get enough of that on the streets? If there’s no meat to the photo, it’s meaningless and even self-serving to post these things online. These people have lives, concerns, stories, just like the rest of us. They’re not just a sad looking picture or a three line quote.

  3. Maybe you commenters who are complaining could use these photos and their captions as a conversation starter when you see these people out on the streets and you could hear more about their stories in person. It would make their story much more personal to you and help them to feel more connected to the community at large. Perhaps.

    • I already speak to these folks on a daily basis, offering services, food, clothes, cigarettes, cash, books, blankets, hand warmers, gloves, shoes and hats.etc. I don’t know all their stories, though, as time doesn’t allow me to delve deeper into who they are, what their stories are and where they’re from…and this blog claims it will offer the stories…one day, I suppose. Its simply CHS not offering what they say they’ll offer.

    • On the few occasions that I have learned the age of someone living on the street, it has seemed absolutely impossible that the face matches the number.

  4. Sean has the cardboard-sign-panhandler facial expression down pat. Doesn’t that facial expression make you want to give him cash? $1.08 is enough for another can of Steel Reserve.

    • Well, since the passage of the “Alcohol Impact Area” legislation, at least he has to go to another neighborhood to get his Steel Reserve.

  5. I’ve know Sean for many years. I’ve seen him cleaned up and beat down, and he’s always been nice to me. There is a back story there that would make most of us shiver. If you’ve been on the streets for 10 (more like 15 to 17) years, it’s not because you like to party, it’s because you cannot (not will not) manage life in our society. Yes, $1.08 may be enough to buy a “Steel Reserve” but it might also be enough to buy a cheap burger or cup of coffee at McDonalds.

    It’s easy to take pot shots from the good seats.

  6. The boilerplate says “first contribution” while this is actually the second. Additionally, there is no story here beyond one quote. Is the interviewer at all interested in the people he photographs? I mean, there’s extensive interviews in other series on this blog that are about people. Do you want us to make up our own stories based on a photo? I think this series thinks it’s something like http://arnade.tumblr.com/ (which has gotten a lot of press), but is totally not. Either flesh these out or make them pure photos with one line captions. No in-between. It’s ridiculous.

    • I am very interested in individual stories and have spent the better part of 25 years walking the streets of CH listening to them, making friends and helping out when i could. Arnade’s work is deep, meaningful…great focus on the individual though it wasn’t our intent to copy that here. Perhaps more is better, though, here at CHS. I’ll talk with Justin to see what he thinks. thanks for the input- td.

  7. I appreciate the feedback and suggestions. The publisher asked that (initially) I keep things brief until we could gauge interest and reactions – i think it’s safe to say we got some of both. I disagree with the notion that either of the 2 photos posted are belittling or self serving, even without a more comprehensive story. Like Mr. Arnade, who’s work I admire and relate to strongly, I too have personal relationships with many of the people I photograph – some going back 20 years. Anyone posing for for this series knows in advance for what and where it will be used. If I erred, it was on the side of caution – keeping much of what was discussed private as was agreed before hand. I’d love to bring more individual stories to light here at CHS and believe it to be important work, which is a main component of why we started the piece in the first place. thanks again for the feedback – td.