These Powerful Portraits Show The Homeless Youth In A Different Light

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of Reciprocity Foundation, a nonprofit charity which supports New York's homeless youth.

In honor of the landmark anniversary, photographer Alex Fradkin created a photo series documenting the untold stories of New York's young homeless population -- nearly half of whom identify as LGBT.

The series, called See Me: Picturing New York's Homeless Youth, features portrait-style photos paired with short essays written by the subjects.

The goal of the project, according to Reciprocity Foundation cofounder Taz Tagore, is to “transform visual culture around how the [homeless] youth are seen.” The series, she hopes, will be “humanizing and connective,” and encourage viewers to “stop, and look, and see.”

Unlike most photo series focused on the homeless, See Me casts subjects in a powerful light.

Fradkin says,

I think a lot of [homeless youth photography] tends toward the downtrodden. But I wanted to avoid anything I'd previously seen.

He says his portraits "give you the chance to connect with [the subject] on many different levels."

Fradkin spent several months getting to know the teens before starting the project.

He let the teens decide how they wanted to be photographed and where.

His goal was to empower the teens...

...and show them how they wished to be seen.

The series was created in honor of The Reciprocity Foundation's 10th anniversary.

The nonprofit charity organization focuses on LGBT homeless youth.

According to some studies, up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

The Reciprocity Foundation provides care and support for these (often marginalized) teens.

Fradkin, the photographer, actively avoided victimizing his subjects.

Instead, he wanted his photographs to communicate their strength and individuality.

Tagore says the homeless youth typically feel "hopeless."

"So few people, once you put the homeless label on them, are able to see [the youth] in any other way,” she says.

She hopes this powerful portrait series will change that.

See Me will be on display in a NYC art gallery next month.

All of the images will also be released in a colored photography book.

Learn more here.

Citations: These Portraits Show Homeless Youth As They Wish To Be Seen (Buzzfeed)