Photographer’s Powerful Portraits of LA’s Notorious Skid Row
A photographer has spent the last decade documenting the people who live in Los Angeles’ Skid Row — a notorious area known for its homeless population.
Suitcase Joe has invested time getting to know and photographing the often vulnerable people who live in tents that line the streets immediately east of downtown L.A.
Over the years, Joe gained trust and formed friendships within the largest homeless community in America allowing him unprecedented access to document their daily lives.
“I’m a street photographer and documentarian but I like to dig a little deeper into humanity,” Joe tells PetaPixel. “I seek out beauty in misunderstood humans and overlooked places.”
“I’ve been actively taking photos and documenting people and places for 10 years now,” he continues.
“But I’ve been wandering around the cracks and crevices of society as far back as I can remember. I’ve always been drawn to the so-called outcast and fringe places. I champion the underdog because I grew up as one.”
Some of Joe’s images are challenging, depicting the drug use and poverty rife in Skid Row that is unimaginable to many people.
“I approach people with dignity and respect and it’s most always reciprocated,” Joe explains. “It’s not difficult to be kind and genuine and most people have pretty good instincts. Usually they can tell my intentions are good.”
Joe is an activist and advocates for the rights of all unhoused individuals. He co-founded the Suitcase Joe Foundation to serve the people of Skid Row with day-to-day needs and to provide support services for getting into long-term housing.
“I’m currently documenting a new collection of work in addition to my work in Skid Row,” he adds.
“I spent six months going to different neighborhoods photographing the people and places that make L.A. unique. Many of the photos will be in my upcoming book Grey Flowers which is going to be published by Burn Barrel Press.”
Joe already published a photography book Sidewalk Champions but Grey Flowers will be about “expanding what I do beyond Skid Row and opening up my lens and myself to a larger world.”
More of Joe’s work can be found on his Instagram and website.
Image credits: All photos by Suitcase Joe.