Ditsy is 19 years-old and homeless in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you’ll quickly see, Ditsy loves kids. He told me that helping and playing with the homeless kids in the park makes him feel better about his younger years. Although this was a fun interview, the fact that every kid in this video is homeless is a serious tragedy.
Ditsy says being a homeless youth is not the hardest thing he has done, but it’s also not the easiest. He says he struggles for food and has to worry about police when sleeping. As hard as homelessness is, Ditsy says if you can stay optimistic, it becomes a little easier. Smart words for such a young man.
When I started to talk to Ditsy about sharing his story the kids were not really around. Before I knew it the kids became part of this story so I just ran with it. While recording, I kept thinking about the challenges of finding all the parents to get their permission. This was a public park at dusk, and who knows where everyone is.
Ditsy took me to the first mother and I handed her a business card. I give everyone a business card with my email and cell number. The mother didn’t really say much when another woman, surrounded by a group of people, started to yell at me to come to her. The first mother ran to this woman and handed her my business card. My first thoughts were that I was in trouble. My second thought was that no way was I going to get permission and this whole thing is about to go bad.
To my shock, the woman asked me to take photos of all their kids and family portraits of everyone. There were probably 3 or maybe 4 homeless families hanging out, and they all wanted portraits. I am not a still photographer and my gear is all set up for video. It was dark, I didn’t have lights, and I had the wrong lens. I only say that because I wish I could have done better for all of them. I told them I would let my friends at Help Portrait know what shelter they are in so they can get photos done right.
For the next 45 minutes I had so much fun, and so did all of them posing for photos. It was as if the world was alright and none of them were experimenting homelessness. Here is a link to a few of the family portraits I took tonight. So obviously, not only did I get every parents permission, I made a bunch of new friends in the process. It’s a night I’ll never forget that’s for sure.
This Invisible People road trip is made possible by Sevenly and Virgin Mobile USA, who are partnering to end youth homelessness through Virgin Mobile USA’s initiative, RE*Generation. For more information please click here.