Photographer Shows The Scary Side Of The “Addicted” Streets Of Philadelphia

Published 6 years ago

“If people were only interested in models or beautiful women, the world would be a dull place,” claims the photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge, who spent 5 years of his life documenting the lives of social outcasts living on Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia.

The avenue is infamous for drug abuse and prostitution and no one is hiding it – it’s all happening out in the open. At first, the photographer himself was intimidated by the neighborhood and its’ disturbing atmosphere, but the barriers disappeared when he started talking to the people he was scared of. Once he started taking pictures of them, the word got around and soon enough he had random strangers walking up asking him to take photos of them and to record their stories.

“Everybody wants a friend. A lot of people I meet, when was the last time somebody asked them how they were doing? I think it offers a release to be able to talk to someone. You feel like you’re important, like you’re not going to be forgotten. People want to be heard,” Stockbridge explains their need to share their private lives with an audience.

“When you have something so graphic to the wider community, you use beauty to communicate things that are not so beautiful,” the artist describes his approach to making these portraits. He wanted for each picture and interaction to paint the picture of the greater ills of society. The brutal honesty is inviting the viewer to understand and be more compassionate towards the marginalized communities.

Scroll down to see the powerful images and check out the blog to hear the audios of the interviewed people and to read more about the project.

More info: blog | Jeffrey Stockbridge | Kensington Blues book (h/t)

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#1 The Twins Tic Tac And Tootsie

“We out here so we can get money so we has somewhere to rest our heads. We look out for each other. If I can’t get money, she gets it, and whatever money we get we share…We need quick money cause we need somewhere to sleep every day. I mean, trust me, we don’t want to be out here doing this. This is the last thing I want to do. But I do what I have to do to take care of my sister. Cause she’s all I got and I’m all she’s got.”

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#2 Al

Al lives in a house off Kensington Avenue without electricity or running water. He sometimes rents his upstairs bedroom to prostitutes in need of a private location for engaging in sex and drug use.

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#3 Sarah

“I’m 55 years old, I have a master’s degree in psychology, but after my husband, mother and father, died in a car accident two years ago, I lost my whole family, my career, one, my health, all in one go.”

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#4 Carroll

She told that she often sleeps on the streets during the day to protect herself at night.

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#5 Pat And Rachel

They still have children, whom they gave away to a special agency for their protection. “We gave the kids away, people say it’s a selfish act, but I think it’s the best I could do for their better future,” Rachel said.

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#6 Tanya

She is 25 years old, working in the sex industry since she was 18.

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#7 Bob

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#8 Jamie

“I’ve been raped, and, you know, almost killed really”

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#9 Carol

A local resident, at the time she was 41. Carol told the photographer that she had been doing heroin for 21 years and it became “the love of her life”.

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge

#10 Sarah And Dennis

The veins in Sarah’s arms were no good for injection, so she asked Dennis for the drug to be injected into her neck.

Image source: Jeffrey Stockbridge


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