STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
ongoing project documents those homeless, disenfranchised and
down and out people for whom street life is the only life they
know and confines its geographic scope to that star-studded
section of Hollywood Boulevard between LaBrea Avenue and Gower
countless hours over the last three years walking the boulevard,
always observant, always ready to add to this project’s
extensive documentation of these marginal people, to whom
attention is seldom paid.
essentially into two groups.
the “regulars,” is comprised of those middle aged and older men
and women who daily aimlessly wander up and down the boulevard,
usually lost in their own thoughts, many gesturing and/or
talking to an imaginary listener. They shun contact and are
loath to acknowledge others, much less engage in conversation.
The majority of them stop only to search trash receptacles along
the way, looking for recyclable plastic or discarded food and
group, the “travelers,” consists of youths who make the
boulevard a temporary stop off on their search for better times
and places. Whether they stay for a few days or weeks and then
are seen no more or whether they leave and return months later,
they rely on hand outs from tourists and food from charitable
organizations – the kindness of strangers.
recognized early on that there was a reluctance on the part of
both the regulars and travelers to being photographed. Whether
due to suspicion, fear of what use would be made of the
photographs or just a desire to simply be left alone, that
reluctance presented a problem, since I wanted my photographs to
be more than mere surreptitious “grab shots” taken from a safe
Robert Capa’s admonition that “if your photographs aren’t good
enough, you’re not close enough” for the first several weeks, I
walked the boulevard, my clearly-visible camera slung over my
shoulder, wearing essentially the same clothes. Over time, my
now-familiar presence, together with my nods of recognition and
non-judgmental demeanor had the desired effect. I gradually
learned how to best approach, talk to and, eventually, get the
cooperation I sought. My camera could be openly employed and my
subjects were less reticent, more trusting and approachable.
surprised by how articulate and friendly many of the people
were, once they felt comfortable with me; with only few
exceptions, they were agreeable to being photographed by me and
quite a few even volunteered to be photographed without my
having to ask.
wanted my photographs to be candid in the true sense of the
word, none of the photographs were staged and, if people posed,
it was a pose of their own choosing. Portraying the spirit and
humanity of my subjects in an honest, yet artistic, way was my
objective. Consistent with that objective, in captioning the
photographs, I simply noted the person’s name and the address on
Hollywood Boulevard where the photograph was taken. No editorial
comments were supplied; I let the
photographs do what photographs are designed to do.
is the most well known and mythically famous street in Los
Angeles. However, the glamor, glitz and excitement portrayed in
the flood of postcards sent around the world for over half a
century are gone.
revitalize the boulevard increasingly affect both the “regulars”
and the “travelers.” Squeezed from the East by the W Hollywood
hotel and the West by the Hollywood-Highland complex as part of
the plan to revitalize Hollywood Boulevard, ignored by tourists,
shunned by shop owners and rousted by the police and the
merchant-funded “Business Improvement District” security force,
the street people’s once safe haven is under attack. Based on
what I’ve seen during the years I’ve been engaged in this
project, their numbers are dramatically decreasing.
documentation might not generate public outcry (as reaction to
John Thompson’s photographs of London’s slums in the 19th
century or Jacob Riis’ and Lewis Hine’s work in the 20th
century), it does call attention to a disenfranchised class
clearly in need of understanding and help.
presents the first extensive documentation of the street people
on Hollywood Boulevard. Getting
up close and personal, my photographs give these people an
identity and present their face to the world. In focusing on a
clearly-defined group within a clearly-circumscribed area, my
project follows a well-recognized tradition, joining such
seminal studies as Bruce Davidson’s East 100th Street,
Danny Lyon’s The Bikeriders, Louis Faurer’s portrayal of
street life in Philadelphia and Mary Ellen Mark’s Streetwise.
the continuation of this documentary project would be well
justified. This project documents a significant but all too
often avoided or ignored segment of society and presents an
honest and disturbing picture of street life on Hollywood
the street life
there’s no place I can go
the only life I know
Life” Randy Crawford