“I lost everything because of cancer. I used to make $5,000 per week with my company but I couldn’t work anymore and it dropped to $900 a month with social welfare. So my girlfriend abandoned me, she left with her daughters. They weren’t mine but I’d been raising them for the past 15 years. The youngest was six months old when I entered the family! Today, only the oldest one agrees to see me. But all of this is temporary, I know I’m going to get back to work, I’ve only gotten better since Christmas.” (all photos by Mikaël Theimer, courtesy MKL)
Mikaël Theimer’s project chronicles a group often overlooked amid the hustle and bustle of city life: the homeless. Theimer, a member of the photography group Humans of the Street Portraits of Montreal, explained over email the logic behind his project, which is modeled after Brandon Stanton’s hugely popular : Humans of New York
Humans of the Streets we hoped to change the perception people had of homelessness. We tend to see these men and women as societal issues: we see ‘a homeless person’ instead of ‘just a person.’ So we thought we’d humanize the homeless of Montreal, to help people see them under a different light, and entice viewers to get to know them on their own. They’re easy to befriend, and if we all befriended them, they’d feel like they are still a part of this society, and it’d make it easier for them to reintegrate into it.
As Stanton does, Theimer includes quotes from his subjects along with their pictures. The stories drive home how precarious life can be, how homelessness often occurs through no fault of its victims; one man recounts that he ended up on the street after he got cancer and couldn’t earn as much. Mental illness, depression, and suicide attempts caused by childhood abuse are also recurring themes.
The enormous popularity of