Photographer captures Los Angeles' homeless in powerful photo essay

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Local news photographer Hans Gutknecht captured the homeless in Los Angeles in 50 pictures, each with a different message.

Each subject wrote a note in their own words on a whiteboard sign, allowing them to share more about themselves in a personal way.

"I let them write whatever they wanted to write," Gutknecht said.

In this moving photo essay, Gutknecht's goal was to tell their story with signs, something homeless people are familiar with, and in a way the public does not normally see.

Gutknecht said most signs have a message saying "I'll work for food" or "I am a veteran," so these photographs give the homeless an opportunity to write a different message with a deeper meaning.

During his time at the Los Angeles Daily News, Gutknecht has been dealing with the homelessness issue for decades, but he said has never seen it this bad.

He said the most common themes are substance abuse and mental illness, which he has seen over and over again.

"If you're a drug addict or you're mentally ill, and you have a support system, you have a family, people that love you, you're not going to end up on the street," Gutknecht said. "But if you don't have those, you absolutely can."

The photographs will appear in the Los Angeles Daily News on Sunday.
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