Homeless in the USA – Tenderloin, San Francisco

An audio-visual exploration of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco

One interesting effect of tourism is that to make a place look ‘picture perfect’, you have to hide it’s problems! You have to have a place where you can contain all the homeless, substance users, parolees and mentally ill!

The Tenderloin district of San Francisco performs this role. Within it’s boundaries one can find most of the cities social services for an estimated 6,500 homeless people.

Home to theaters, burlesque houses, strip clubs and dive bars, the Tenderloin is a colourful neighbourhood. Waves of immigrants have also added to it’s diversity, providing a myriad of cultural cuisines, particularly South East Asian.

But is it also a high crime neighbourhood, particularly violent street crime such as robbery and aggravated assault. The San Francisco Police Department warn that seven out of ten violent crimes within the city occur within the Tenderloin.

Not exactly the place you want to get caught with a camera!

But despite the drug crime and prostitution, the pan-handling and despair. I felt a need to capture on film the underbelly of American urban decay.

There is no way a tourist could just wander the Tenderloin with a camera. I had to devise a method of filming that would not attract attention and allow me to capture authentic ‘street life’.

To do so I filmed this audio-visual study using video sunglasses. I then slowed the footage by 50% to try and capture the nuance of life in a dangerous neighbourhood. Watching the footage back I was fascinated to see the little glimpse of all I passed. To see the true pain and suffering on the faces of those living on the streets. I also found it fascinating that many living on the streets had brand new sport shoes!

I’ve added no voiceover, no comments. I want the viewer to explore their own feelings with this footage.

I’d love to hear your comments below.

God Bless America, home of the free 😉

Filmed using my Quiver HD Video Sunglasses

footage slowed down 50%, no post stabilisation or colour correction

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