I am the unofficial photographer at church. Our pitch-in lunches are a great time for me to make portraits. Everybody seems to really love it that I bring my camera. Especially the children, who clamor to be in a photograph.

Would you guess that we are an inner-city mission where almost everyone who attends on Sunday has a difficult life story? Hunger, addictions, abuse, homelessness, undertreated and untreated health issues — among our members, we see all of the problems of poverty.

We really pack ’em in for lunch because it’s a sure meal. We call it a pitch-in lunch, but we tell everyone to join us whether or not they brought a dish to share. Many of our members probably don’t have enough food in their homes to get them through the next few days.

Living situations for our families can change suddenly. I haven’t seen the boy on the left in more than a year. His mother and his several brothers and sisters attended for months, until one Sunday they weren’t there. They were living across the street; when we went to check on them, we found they had moved without a word.

I see the boy on the right from time to time. His grandmother, despite having her own considerable troubles, was a major source of stability in his life. She passed away unexpectedly last month; she was only about five years older than me. He and his sisters now face considerable uncertainty.

All we can do is offer love, support, and encouragement, and try to connect them with available community resources. And sometimes, we offer them lunch.

I always make prints of the photos I take, and give them to the subjects. For some of them, these are the only portraits of their families that they have.

Boys in church • Pentax ME • 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M • Kodak Tri-X 400 • February, 2013


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