A picture is worth a thousand words -- and its impact can be contagious, too.
Inspired by the work of photographer and humanitarian Brandon Stanton -- the man behind photo blog Humans of New York -- artist Mikaël Theimer began his own series documenting people in Montreal. The project, coined Humans of the Street, is similar in style to Stanton's, as it captures the faces of Theimer's subjects and notes thoughtful quotations they had to share.
All of Theimer's subjects in the series, however, are homeless.
Theimer said he began realizing his work "could have impacts in the real world" after one of his photos made a difference in a homeless subject's life, Mic reported. The man in question had asthma and was afraid a summer heat wave could kill him. After the photo became popular online, one of Theimer's Facebook page fans posted her own photo of the homeless man with a box of inhalers she had provided him.
"This is very important to us," Theimer told Mic of Humans of the Street. "This is the big reason why we're doing this: We want to make the first step between everyday people and homeless people, we want to break the ice, make them feel like friends. Because then how can we stand to leave our friends in such a living hell?"
Theimer said his series aims to inspire those who are more fortunate to reach out to, connect with and help the homeless of Montreal -- a city where about 30,000 residents are without stable shelter, according to the most recent count which was conducted in 1998.
Translation: "I don’t want you to take a picture with my face on it because I’ve got an 11-year-old daughter and I’d rather tell her face to face what happened to me, rather than have her find out on the Internet."
Translation: "I was suicidal until the age of 18. I did about 20 suicide attempts, and one day I realized life was too beautiful, that I had to stop pressuring myself thinking about all the war and the famine going on in the world because I am powerless against this."
"What made you want to kill yourself?"
"The fact that the world can’t realize that we are not the masters of the world, it’s the Earth that’s the master of us, we need to stop destroying it. All the famine in the world. Seeing that a guy driving around with a $200,000 car could feed almost all of Mozambique or Burkina Faso just with his car. Seeing the rich insisting to get richer at the expense of the poor. This is something that will always affect me. I came into this world with huge existential anxiety related to all the violence happening in the world, to the lack of respect people have towards themselves and towards others. My wealth in life is the smiles I encounter, the help I’m able to provide, the help I receive, the people that reach out to me. When I was 13, I was in the street, after my first detox. At 12, I was selling mescaline. I stopped because I was selling it to adults, those adults were selling it back to my mom, and my mom was on another planet. At 8, I already had a lawyer, because I had been abused and mistreated my whole youth. Because of this I left home at 13. But it forged everything I am, and I am proud of what I am today. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, I’m proud to see that other people also think I’m a good person, a nice little fellow that gives smiles. I have to help the people around me: If someone next to me is cold, my shirt becomes twice as valuable because I can use it to warm two people. Nowadays, I listen to my heart. If my heart tells me to do something, even if my head tells me not to, I do it. If your heart tells you to do something, do it, because you’re going to get an extremely enriching experience out of it.”
Translation: "We’ve known each other for over 20 years. Plenty of people find themselves a partner in the street, but they are not like him and I. I can guarantee, on the life of anyone, I’ve never seen two homeless persons stick together like us. He does his part, and I do mine. That’s how it works, you have to help each other."