The face of homelessness in L.A.: An ABC7 photographer's view through his lens

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The issue of homelessness has reached a crisis level in Southern California.

At Eyewitness News, we're committed to covering the crisis and taking a deeper look at not just the problem, but solutions as well.

Our own photojournalist Stephen Coleman was so drawn to documenting the lives and stories of those living on the streets, he went out on his own to capture the images. He's sharing his observations and perspective from behind the lens.

"This is my way of volunteering," Coleman said. "My way of trying to have an impact."

Coleman started documenting life on the streets through still photography years ago, when he was putting together photographs for a book.

He found that it was easier to talk to people when he had a still camera, versus the video camera he normally uses when he's covering stories for Eyewitness News.

Through the years, he's met many people, but one encounter in particular that stood out to him was a man named David.

"I see him all the time. He sits on a vent across from the Cathedral. He's a real hoot, always interesting to talk to. I always try to give him a little something, a couple of bucks so he can grab a meal," Coleman said.

The area has changed a lot since Coleman started capturing images.

"It used to be a lot of cardboard boxes," he said. "Now everybody has a tent."

Coleman said no matter how people feel about the situation, he hopes people look at the homeless through a different lens - one of compassion.

"This is a very serious matter. It's going to require a long-term fix," he said. "There are going to be homeless and poor people always. The question is: how do we treat them, how do we respond to them?"

"This is us," he added. "This is not some other place, some other country. What I hope that people take away from seeing my images is to see the human being that's in the image. These are people, they're like you and me."
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