8 Photos of New Yorkers Most People Don’t See.

Via on Dec 15, 2013

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”


Relephant bonus: 3 things I wish I knew earlier:

NYC: Homeless man sings Radiohead’s “Creep.”

There are many more photos and stories on Chris Arnade’s Flickr account, with stories. NSFW:

Thanks to Alan Tudyk’s twitter feed, here’s all the stories & pics. NSFW

This picture hit me the hardest.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnade/8076878212/in/set-72157627894114489/ This one too got me. The idea of a “kitten hustle” is strange to me… I can’t imagine being so poor as to hunt down stray kittens to take somewhere to sell.

(Source: imgur.com)


Why Yoga Can Be An Important Part of Addiction Recovery. ~ Alicia Lawrence

“This is why you don’t smoke crack!”

Nine Common Misconceptions About the Homeless.


Bonus: 2-minute meditation to help see those around you:

YouTube Preview Image

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34 Responses to “8 Photos of New Yorkers Most People Don’t See.”

  1. sharelle says:

    Chris – These are very powerful images. I know you have been working on these for some time.,,it shows. Bravo!

  2. Linda M. says:

    These pics were extremely powerful & the captions will probably haunt me forever.

  3. Anne says:

    There never was a five year old who had the dream of being a junkie when she grew up. Addicts bring out some of humanity 's worst judgement. Thank you for taking time to reflect this back to us with these people who have stepped into a darkness we all fear and raising our empathy and compassion.

  4. Sandy says:

    Thanks for showing us the truth. I feel for these people and don't want people living this way. It hurts

  5. lynny says:


  6. Kimberley says:

    It’s easy to cast judgement on people and their addictions. We often forget that there’s a story behind each addiction..
    Thank you for this.

  7. Zoe says:

    This is very powerful. Thank you.

  8. Chris says:

    Damn! The picture of Egypt created fluid in my eyes. I'd hug her. And the cat.

  9. Joshua says:

    When I was about 17, a friend (now deceased) offered me $20 to drive him to Denver so he could pick up some crack for someone he knew. While driving back, he smoked a few hits of it in the seat next me and I felt the change come over him. It made me curious. I began to feel the desire. When we arrived at the Quiznos this friend of his worked in, he was sitting out front shaking nervously. He jumped up and ran to my car. When he got in, my friend passed the little bag of crack over to him and said, "listen, I smoked a few hits on the way back. I hope that's cool." And this guy shouted, "SHUT THE F*** UP, I NEED TO GET HIGH!" He broke off a piece into his little pipe and smoked it. He then started yelling at my friend about being a thief, etc. etc. He stopped and turned toward me and said, "Thanks for going to get this. You want some? I got you." I said, "No thanks." I dropped the two of them off a short while later and moved on with my life. I never smoked it, but came really really close. What's crazy is that the vision of doing it – and of shooting heroin as well, because heroin more aptly captures the feeling of the particular kind of oblivion that some parts of me want to die in – is still there inside of me and haunts me. I'm telling you this story, because your post brought tears to my eyes. Because when I look at their faces, I can feel their pain and struggles and I don't feel like I'm any different, even though I've managed to stay clean. My everyday life is still an impossible challenge that sometimes lets me see the silver lining. I can be pretty happy. If you smile at me, I'll probably smile back… If you smile at a junky, at least some of them will still smile back. Everyone needs love and encouragement. I find myself seeking out photos and videos of people just like these, because when I feel too powerfully alienated, when I feel like my own laundry list of symptoms is too heavy to carry, I can look at them and through some indescribable connection, remember that I'm not alone. It isn't as good a feeling as being loved, but it helps me come back home to myself.

    • Leslee says:

      So dear Joshua, translate that feeling in your soul To feeling loved! Clearly you loved yourself enough to stay true, stay strong. This is the strongest kind of love! Well done lovely you!

  10. Carrie says:

    Wow very moving. X thank you for this article and pictures

  11. Elianna says:

    Thanks! I really needed to see this, my brother just died, he lived on the streets most his adult life after he for discharged from military, I wanted to help him even though my life us challenging too with a disabled adult child, but my bro chose to live and die on the streets, he was a light in the darkness, everyone loved him, he came from a wealthy family and even when our parents died recently and he got a chunk of money, he still stayed with his real “family”, he was the only person in my family that didn’t judge me and he completely loved and accepted me and my son, I miss him so much!!!

  12. misc says:

    She is my sister.

  13. misc says:

    So imagine stumbling across these photos and finding her.

  14. thank you for posting this and humanizing addiction. the images are incredibly moving. deep bows to Chris Arnande.

  15. Former Street Kid says:

    The majority of these addicts could have been prevented, had their parents had access to sterilization services which paid them, which prevented them from having children, and passing on the misery. It's not about eugenics, it's about preventing more pain and suffering, by not allowing another generation to be born into this mess.
    ~ A Former Street Kid

  16. Tara Pike says:

    I was a former emancipated turned “street” kid, who became a mother of 5 kids and lives many years w drugs and in an abusive relationship…then I grew up and put my children and all our wellbeing first and I never lost my kids and I left my ex-husband when they were all small and I got a job put myself thru school and now even bought a home and am remarried raising not just my own children but his as well…these pics are nice and all but homestly the only thing that saddens me is how these ppl and their stories are justifiying them letting their hardtimes make it ok to live a lifetime of drugs and addictions and I as a former druggie and loser do not appluad anyone who tries to make ppl feel sorry for them not trying to rise above and become a successful human for themselves and their families…

  17. Doreen says:

    I just want to remind people that these "stories" are just 1% of the lives they live. He's not romanticizing drug use, he's showing that they are not that far removed from the rest of us. Kudos to those who have gotten out of it. But when the world is pressing down on you from every direction it's very tempting to have an escape clause.

  18. Stephanie Newell says:

    Bring me the 21 year old child. She will have a home and education. She still has a chance. For the others, feed them, show them God and send my love.

  19. Edith says:

    I really love this work! It is awesome!

  20. Thanks for the wonderful topic of the subject he is very wish more fascinating topics

  21. ilfauno44 says:

    I personally find it a little disingenuous of Elephant to continue to run this story when it's fronted by the photo of "the hot chick." The poor girl's a child still, has had 9 pimps, and yet even in this so-called "enlightened" space, she gets pimped to tell this sentimental story. This is quasi-yellow journalism, and serves no greater function than something related to porn. I doubt any of the photo subjects received any substantial benefits from this photo essay, but boy did the photographer, and Ele. Take out the good-lookin' lulu-like wearing girl, and nobody would even look at this story. It's sad. It's us.

  22. Scoobs says:

    How is it that most people don’t see these? This is *exactly* what I think of when I think of NY.

  23. Chris is amazing. I love his work and his stories, especially about the Hunts Point area. He does a lot to give back including collecting blankets and hand/feet warmers in the winter and books all year round. He says one of the best things to do to help is to give to the Hunt's Point Community Center.

  24. This is very powerful. Thank you.

  25. al3ab66 says:

    These are some nice photos,I m so suprised about just what looking at ,and These are very powerful images. I know you have been working on these for some time.,,it shows. very good ! Some people are only one paycheck away from being homeless!! Very sad!

  26. How is it that most people don't see these? This is *exactly* what I think of when I think of NY.

  27. I really love this work! It is awesome!

  28. Bring me the 21 year old child. She will have a home and education. She still has a chance. For the others, feed them, show them God and send my love.

  29. Inna says:

    Wow, this is intense.

  30. I can look at them and through some indescribable connection, remember that I’m not alone. It isn’t as good a feeling as being loved, but it helps me come back home to myself.

  31. Thanks you for sharing my friend

    keep the good works

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