Awaken I – Blue’s

Blues, ( yes, that’s his real name ) is the guy who stands at the corner with the “Homeless Talk” Newspaper trying to sell a few papers for some change. I expected to get told no, or that he wasn’t interested, as for some reason, whenever I tried to take a picture of someone on the street, they would adamantly refuse, even covering their faces sometimes.

Anyway – Blue’s is originally from KZN, where he and his family grew up. He has a wife and a few kids there and told me that he moved up here to Johannesburg in 1997. The same year my family moved up here from KZN. Very bizarre coincidence. He told me that just because you sell a “Homeless Talk”  newspaper, it doesn’t mean you are homeless. You are a businessman.

Awaken Portrait Project - Blues

They have to buy the newspaper at a reduced fee, and then sell it for a slightly higher fee, and keep the marked-up profits, as written on the front page. I never honestly knew this, and he had a great pleasure in telling me how it all worked. However, this little gig is really just for him to earn some extra cash, as he works on another corner for the rest of the week.

He has worked in Sportsman’s Warehouse, McDonalds and a few other places, and considering how fluent he is in English, Zulu, Sotho and various other languages ( even bits of Afrikaans ), he said his real goal is to be a DJ.

Yup – he said he wants to be on the radio-waves,  but doesn’t have the cash to finish his studies ( High-School) or to get involved in the industry.  He said, ” Even the news or sports, that will do.”

I have to admit, it took so much just to walk up to him, someone standing on the corner making an honest living, and just get to talk to him. I stood there reading a flyer stapled to a tree for 5 minutes trying to “casually” find an easy segway into talking to him. Obviously no such luck occurred.

In hind-sight, It was worth it totally. I took the first step and did what I set out to do. There was no crazy backlash and I learnt something fascinating about someone I might have possibly driven past for over 3 years, and done nothing more than spare some occasional change and a “HOWSIT MAN !!” getting yelled joyfully at me sometimes in the morning traffic.

He had to get back to work and obviously chatting to me whilst car’s streamed past wasn’t really helping.
I really wanted to get the streaks of the cars coming past him in, with his headphones in his ears, singing – as he was moments before I started talking to him. But technicalities aside –

People aren’t as scary as I might have thought. 🙂



You never quite know how big some peoples dreams are , or how much “life” they have really lived. We kinda walk past people in a blur, not expecting that they would have something to say. But, every person REALLY does have a story.


Not be so scared and waste 5 minutes staring at a “Jumble Sale” flyer stapled to a tree.
I would’ve waited a bit more to get the “real” shot of him. Something that was more a reflection of him, than a snapshot.


Hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you have any feedback, comments or ideas – please leave a comment, Im always keen to learn and chat ! 🙂

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