Weekly Photo Challenge, Illumination

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I drove into Atlanta with a friend of mine last Saturday morning. Our mission was to take pictures of the Kodak camera shop on historic Ponce de Leon Avenue, long abandoned before Kodak’s well publicized bankruptcy. After locating the deserted building, we circled around until finding that the only place to park was at the Krispy Creme Doughnut Shop on the intersection diagonal to the Kodak building. We arrived in time to witness a loud dispute between an upset street person and a man who looked like a regular customer, who seemed familiar with the other man’s behavior. Somehow our arrival in the parking lot only inflamed the situation, and the man turned his sites on me and my friend and gave chase. One snapshot later, a missing “K” in Kodak, a scramble to my car and a silent plea to the upset man that,”we’re on your side, really,” I stepped on the gas, adrenaline pumping, and we drove away in silence. Our Saturday morning photo shoot had gone so terribly wrong, and our unintended confrontation with a troubled soul left us both sad and wondering how to help solve the world’s many problems.
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I’m posting my one photograph taken that morning of illumination, which is both beautiful and inspirational, as well as a spotlight to those who are living a life of struggle.

51 comments

  • An example of our amoral society, and kicking God out of nearly everything? too bad you couldn’t get more snaps, glad your safe!

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    • Thank you for reading the entire story! I’m not sure of the moral of this tale, except that life is filled with the unexpected, and that the quote “There but for the grace of God (go I) seems appropriate.

      Have a great night!
      Elisa

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    • I didn’t think many people would read the story in its entirety, so I’m especially glad you did, Naomi. There was unhappiness all around, and all I can hope for is some kind of truce, or peaceful resolution, and more importantly a place for those who have no where to go.

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      • I’m glad I read it all too. (I always do). It was one sad glimpse into a stranger’s life, but you know stories like this are going on all the time, unnoticed and unremarked upon. Or remarked upon with a hard cold eye. You saw the big picture, and your compassion is evident.

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  • sometimes we need to be reminded that all things are not always bright and beautiful in everyone’s world – and it’s always upsetting to feel so powerless to help….

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    • Yes, powerless is exactly how I feel when I think how of many troubled people with mental health issues, and the legions of others, who have no shelter. No where to “live.”

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  • It’s not unusual for this type of confrontation where I come from (South Africa). It is, though, a constant reminder of what is wrong with our society. So sad. Sorry you had such a horrid experience. The photo though ‘says’ a lot.

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  • hey Elisa!

         Hope all is well with the Rulands…!

    Had to respond to this! My oldest, Gray, goes to GA State, and lives downtown. I know it is an excellent school, and I know Gray chooses to live there, but the homeless problem really upsets him. He is constantly confronted by people (can you imagine?) and I always wonder how it will ultimately change his view on the situation. I’m afraid he will become de-sensitized (sp?) If he didn’t, would he be constantly depressed?? Maybe this is just another mothers worry…ugh. miss you!

    Laura ps- glad you escaped unharmed, you adventurer you…keep up the good work

    ________________________________

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    • Hi Laura! The area around Georgia State is so pretty, with Woodruff Park and those vintage boutique hotels. Sadly, I wandered around that area one sunny Sunday morning after I had dropped Mike off at Hartsfield. The same thing, constantly approached and was even followed by one guy for a while. Even though there were a few tourists out, I never felt completely safe, and will never go alone again, even on a pretty Sunday. I did notice a few police cruisers every now and then, though. I think Gray knows the ropes and will be fine. So don’t worry too much, mama bear!

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  • These reminders that not all is well with everyone are upsetting, but needed. My heart goes out to those who are struggling.

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  • I realize this is totally off topic, but, here goes… We had just dropped our daughter off at school (Emory) after a really nice dinner at a diner in Buckhead. I know it was after 12:00, and what did I see, an illuminated HOT sign in the Krispy Kreme window. (All the Krispy Kreme in Boston have closed) We just couldn’t pass by without stopping to get one or two….I was wondering if that KK is near that Kodak store.

    I encounter many “homeless” people on the streets here in Boston. I can’t resist in engaging them in conversation and taking their pictures. I always give them some money for allowing me to take their picture. It’s my way of trying to help….

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    • That store is located on Ponce de Leon, which IS very close to Emory. It’s on a big corner and the Kodak store is right across the intersection…it was probably dark, otherwise you would have noticed it, I think. Warm KK’s, nothing better in the wee morning hours!

      I always feel especially concerned for the homeless up north during the frigid winters. We’re about to get a taste of it here tomorrow. A little snow, a little ice…the entire area will be shut down for days!!

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  • Beautiful photograph, Elisa. Glad to know you and your friend weren’t harmed. It is a sad reality, we see this everywhere now. I pray that that troubled soul finds his way…

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    • Thank you, Gracie. Yes, we survived our hair raising experience, and I still think about that man, and hope that he is a survivor out there as well.

      Have a good day,
      Elisa

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  • A very nice photo despite the hair-raising experience. I hope you and your friend have another opportunity to try your photo shoot again.

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  • I wonder what all the confusion and anger was about? Sorry that your fun day was cut short and that it was a scary, unsettling encounter. It’s hard to see people struggling like this, especially when they are aggressive and unwell. Glad to hear you are safe and unharmed. I guess, you can add this to your growing list of colorful photographer stories. Be safe out there!

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    • Thanks, Laura. I’m not sure what was going on that morning. Just another day in the life of a street photographer….
      😉
      I hope you had a great weekend,
      Elisa

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  • Elisa, glad you got out of there without issues other than your pounding heart. It’s a shame to see this kind of deterioration in our beloved city. We used to live in Decatur area. I went to Druid Hills High School and Emory Univ. Can’t say I remember this place tho…it probably looked much better back in the 80’s.

    Nice pics!! How about coming up this way for photos – less dangerous! 🙂

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    • Jeannie, I keep forgetting that you are a true Atlanta native. You’re such a good writer, I’d love to read about your life growing up in Atlanta in the 80’s. And you went to Emory! I always knew you were a smarty pants!!

      Don’t worry, I’ll be heading up your way soon. I hope you had a great weekend!
      Elisa

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    • I’m sure it’s frustrating for one who lives on the street to watch two women with big shiny cameras walk around their turf and take pictures of an abandoned building. I get it!

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  • At least your one photograph was a perfect one! It’s too bad that your planned photo shoot went so wrong. It can be heartbreaking to run across someone who needs help and feel unequipped or unable to help them. But I’m glad that you and your friend were safe!

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  • I love the photo of the old Kodak building. The guy probably wouldn’t have harmed anybody. I’m sure he simply wanted to rant. I used to get the angry end of these disputes when I was a social worker in the worst part of Greensboro, NC. Some of my clients were homeless men and women living in abandoned houses evading capture and placement in mental hospitals or group care homes. Once, a fairly young, schizophrenic “wino” followed me to my car waving a letter from DHS and raving about how I took his disability check. It was almost comic in its absolute futility. He reached into the car and grabbed the steering wheel to keep me there so he could “explain”. I finally shoved him away and backed out slowly since he was hanging onto the car! He had to turn loose when the car pushed him backwards. It was just all in a day’s work for me back then. The state mental hospitals were dumping people onto the streets and even putting them on buses with a one-way ticket out of the county as the solution to lack of funding. I understand they are doing that again now. We absolutely have to do something about mental health services in this country! I was frightened sometimes too when I first started in adult service social work. Drugs were not prevalent then, however, so it really wasn’t quite as dangerous as it is now. You got a couple of really good photos for your trouble! 🙂

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    • What a story! I’m glad you kept your cool and showed him you that you were in charge. It’s tragic about the mentally ill and having to live on the streets. That same day my friend and I passed a sweet looking soul who was asleep on a bench right along the road. He was clinging to a yard rake of all things, and had it propped so he could use it as a pillow. It was so sad that it was hard to look, but hard to look away.

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  • Remember the old starfish story …. helping just one person in whatever way makes a huge difference to that person. You alone can’t “fix” the world but you can help to alleviate someone’s pain.

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    • I’ve tried to live my life treating everyone with kindness, but I know that it’s not a level playing field out there. I wish I could have helped this man, but I think we probably did the best thing by removing the problem, which for him….was us. I get it! The mind wanders though, what kind of life is it out there on the streets.

      I really enjoyed hearing from you, Roly, your wisdom and insight always hit home.

      Elisa

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  • What a poignant post! Another case study confirming what Theodore Levitt told the world in the fifties about the risk of ” Marketing Myopia” and the need to define ” What business we are in?” more broadly. But organisations keep making the same mistake decades on.Kodak has been so much a part of what our memories are made of, I feel sad….

    Shakti

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  • Your photos tell the story Elisa! You are the true artist!

    And your soul is beautiful-great gift from God.If only there were more people like you…
    the world would be a much better place.

    Thanks Elisa..All the best!Love
    Aida

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    • Aida, I am touched by your comment, almost beyond words! It is people like you who inspire me to stay involved in the blog world. I am so glad that we made a connection!

      Elisa

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