Ignored, Forgotten, Alone

Women begging, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Women begging, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

I almost never make photographs of people in distressing situations. I don't like to make their misfortune the subject of my photographs. I made an exception in Frankfurt am Main when I saw a Muslim woman begging in the pedestrian area of the busy city centre.

I walked out of a store, seeing her immediately. Initially my attention was not drawn to her, but to the space passersby were placing between themselves and the woman. It seemed there was an invisible force making sure a safe distance was kept between members of contrasting worlds. The one world personified by busy, well-dressed, affluent city dwellers, the other by a woman crouched on stone pavings, motionless, her head bowed in humility. In her hand she held the only resource she knew to earn a little money; a paper cup serving to collect a cent coins from those few passersby who even cared to notice her.

The scene summarized a situation that does not appeal to me. A human being in desperation, dependent on more fortunate people, yet backs are turned on her, figures walking away from her, business as usual, no assistance, no thought of what challenges she may be facing. Ignored, forgotten, alone.

(please, no thought of "she belongs to a beggar gang, it's a scam"...too often, this excuse is used to cover up our own unwillingness to assist those in need of help).

I did not forget her. I did not then, and my photograph makes sure I do not forget her now.