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Thomas: Windows to my Soul

By andreduplessis
Thomas: 6 months later.....

I managed to track Thomas down in Paris over the weekend.
I searched the Left Bank (his patch) for a day, to no avail, and then approached waiters and shop keepers, showing them a small picture of him.
A dear chap by the name of Sami, who serves ice cream, eventually came to my rescue....
Thomas now lives in a small tent on the paved section in the middle of Rue Flandres in Crimee, which is in north-est Paris. Awfull location that he picked, as traffic passes very close by on either side of the tent, and pedestrians have to walk around his tent and scattered belongings.
However, although he would have preferred a quiter location, he feels safe here as he is visible to the locals and there is constant movement, especially as there is a monoprix immediately opposite.
He has made enemies in the Left Bank, as some other homeless persons apparently became jealous of the fact that he managed to obtain a mobile phone and number, and recently....wait for used Nikon D80 with a broken lens.
He is now shooting pics of passers-by, and of his animals, which are now down to two dogs (both overweight), and a cat.
He showed me the lens - some part inside has come loose, and partially obscures the image. So now he has to shake his camera and every 20th or so pics works.
His dog that featured in my previous upload of Thomas was stolen. He thinks that he knows who did it, however, is too terrified to approach the person or area.
There is a floral shop across the street that he uses as his postal address. They also keep his camera when he's not using it.
The same people who forced him from the Left Bank also cut the tires of his bicycle contraption that I have referred to previously, however, he is planning to have that fixed soon.
I have now forged a trusting relationship with Thomas, and shall continue to pay visits to him every time I manage to visit that wonderful city.
I do not know how Thomas survives financially, as he never begs. I suspect that he receives a hand-out from the council.
I spent a few hours with Thomas, chatting mainly about photography, teaching him a few things with the camera. I managed to do some shots as well, however, difficult, as you feel that you are in a fish bowl, with everyone staring at you...
I showed him a PDF print-out of all the comments from EPZ members etc, and he was very taken by this.
The prints were immediately cut to size (with a very blunt scissors), and pasted into his album that materialised from somewhere under the sleeping bag.

Tags: Black and white Portraits and people

Voters: TelStar, KarenFB, Gwen_A and 83 more

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14 Apr 2009 6:27PM
Wow. What an image and what a story. Well done. =)

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TelStar 13 116 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 6:31PM
An amazing image, truly soulful. I feel his searching eyes.

Gwen_A 10 2 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 6:32PM
What a powerful image and story - thanks for sharing.
KP 9 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 6:32PM
What a truly amazing portrait.
digipix76 11 577 England
14 Apr 2009 6:35PM
A truely superb photograph.

14 Apr 2009 6:43PM
Kind thanks to you all, and the UA much appreciated Ian. I have some pictures of Thomas with both his and my cameras - more 'recod' shots, however, shall see if I can get one prentable enough to submit. He becomes totally absorbed when he is busy taking pics - I so enjoy seeing that. Tried my utmost to get totally stoked on this wonderful pursuit, and left him with some magazines on digital photography.
philsmed 9 2 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 6:44PM
A very sharp, gritty character study. Well worth the search. You must be pleased with it!!!!

SlowSong Plus
9 7.4k 30 England
14 Apr 2009 6:46PM
How fantastic. There's real intelligence and wisdom in those eyes. A most wonderful portrait. And how brilliant that he's found such a hobby - and you to help him. All round excellence.
Scaramanga Plus
10 56 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 6:50PM
Fabulous portrait. I work with homeless people and they tend to pretty much look after each other over here.
RobMacd 11 21 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 6:54PM
Love it...What a great shot.

14 Apr 2009 6:55PM
Thank you for the UA Chris! Yes - it was dissapointing to hear his stories about harassment. However, I think that the move has done Thomas well, as he appears healthier than in Sept last year. And many locals stop by to chat.
Buffalo_Tom 11 2.3k 9 Wales
14 Apr 2009 6:56PM
I am in awe of your dedication and love for this man.Stunning photo journalism.It is not about the photo but what goes with it.
14 Apr 2009 6:57PM
Thanks for that Tom.....
shandoor 9 1 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 7:04PM
Stunning character shot and he really seems to be quite a character and wow what a story amazing
chrisco 12 59 3 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 7:05PM
incredibly emotive portrait,simply superb,well done.
dandeakin 10 209 3 England
14 Apr 2009 7:16PM
Another class image, even stronger than the original ones. He sounds like a great character and the write up is fascinating. And he's a fellow photographer - great story.

Warriorpoet 9 213 3 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 7:17PM
Marvellous portrait and extraordinary story

comma 10 108 6 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 7:23PM
beautiful work
NevP 12 853 13 Canada
14 Apr 2009 7:27PM
A bit of magic, that doesn't happen without being a magician. A wonderful portrait and a very moving story. Fabulous.
14 Apr 2009 7:31PM
Hi Neville! Lovely to hear from you and many thanks! Best wishes to you, and thank you to the other members who have left such positive comments. Andre
User_Removed 16 2.8k 11 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 8:18PM
Great story and really nice portrait.

jayjay52 9 2 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 9:21PM
A very brilliant portrait
AlleyCatz 12 274 6 England
14 Apr 2009 9:32PM
Really excellent image and write up Andre.
Glad you took the time and effort to find him.

Daisymaye Plus
9 23 16 Canada
14 Apr 2009 9:48PM
What an incredible story. In every human being there is something very interesting...We each have a story. Your portrait of Thomas is outstanding. You've captured such a perfect expression of him listening and learning from you. Just wonderful Andre.....Sandy
ToothPilot 11 50 4 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 10:03PM
Your best Andre.
14 Apr 2009 10:15PM
A life time in furrows,
A tender gentle stare,
Your picture tells the story,
Your words tell how you care.

great work
14 Apr 2009 10:18PM
Dear Gerry, Jenny, Alley, Sandy and Hendrik. Thank you so much for the comments, and the UA much appreciated Henk.
Sandy - many thanks for your flattering comment.
14 Apr 2009 10:36PM
Hi smileykiley - that is very sweet of you....thanks, Andre
paulashby 9 10 1 United Kingdom
14 Apr 2009 10:45PM
This is special.
Geraint 11 715 34 Wales
14 Apr 2009 10:52PM
Andre you fascinate me. You have a clear empathy with the characters that you photograph, which is evident in both the actual photos and in your commentaries. Brilliant work again - such a strong portrait. The white rings(?) pull the eye a little, but they're not a distraction for me - just another detail to take in in this wonderful photo.
14 Apr 2009 11:27PM
Thanks Geraint. I think that you are correct in this. However, this can, and often is a draw-back, as it limits my access, as a relationship of some kind remains important for me. I sometimes wish that this was not the case, so that I can get more work done, for often I leave entusiastically, only to come back with no frames taken.
15 Apr 2009 1:06AM
Many thanks to the EPZ team for the HC. Don't quite know who awarded this, however, this gesture is very much appreciated.
Andre Smile
Garts 9 Australia
15 Apr 2009 4:15AM
As good as it gets,wonderful b&w portrait and lovely story.Thanks for sharing.- Adrian.
15 Apr 2009 6:55AM
Many thanks Garts, and Tom - great to receive your UA! Thanks & regards, Andre
15 Apr 2009 7:25AM
Thanks for such a superb portrait and equally wonderful narrative
Geraint 11 715 34 Wales
15 Apr 2009 8:56AM
Congratulations Andre! So glad to see this pick up an award. For what it's worth, here's mine to add to it!
DaveU 12 1.4k 125 England
15 Apr 2009 10:46AM
Powerful imagery and eloquent prose to support it ..... a marvellous package.
funkeldink 14 1.6k 1 Australia
15 Apr 2009 11:06AM
Mynett 9 142 6 United Kingdom
15 Apr 2009 11:07AM
wonderful reportage excellent image

bobalot 11 10 England
15 Apr 2009 1:28PM
real life real work, just wonderful.

15 Apr 2009 3:01PM
Many thanks for the UA's and the nice feed back! Wishes, Andre
AlleyCatz 12 274 6 England
15 Apr 2009 10:46PM
Congrats on your HC Smile

16 Apr 2009 2:47PM
Thanks Alley!
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
16 Apr 2009 3:21PM
Very moving and an awesome image
jimmypaton 9 19 Scotland
17 Apr 2009 10:09PM
fantastic image
24 Apr 2009 12:09PM
Many thanks Nick and Jimmy...
tommythecat 11 149 2 United Kingdom
26 May 2009 12:08PM
Another superb image. Thanks for taking the time to share the story as well; both aspects of this series have been a pleasure to follow.
4 Jun 2009 10:58AM
Many thanks for the comment. Paid Thomas another visit last weekend, but no pics this time. Just chatting. Too sunny, and the street was far too busy.
Stenno 11 11 England
8 Jan 2010 8:52PM
Excellent image and I have to echo the sentiments of everyone as it's quite touching to know you have befriended this man, and are now probably the best friend he has ever had? Quite an uplifting story compared to all the bad stuff we tend to hear about only too often!

10 Feb 2010 1:45AM
Many thanks Geoff. Yes, I have maintained contact, and have managed to get his other picture published in a book which I shall get to him, hopefully soon.

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