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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Humanize: A Photo Story

Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal (left) taking a picture of Jose Martinez (right) for her photo project. Martinez was one of seven other subjects. (Derin Kirtman/International Dateline)

For the first time in her life, freshman Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal was excited to hear the sound of her alarm at 5 a.m. After cooking up a couple of waffles and gulping down a warm chai latte, Brudniak-Berrocal met with me in her alley before dawn. 

We walked from her house all the way to Dupont Circle, where Saint Margaret’s Episcopal Church is located. There, an organization called Charlie’s Place serves breakfast to the local homeless people. For more than 30 years, this organization has been helping D.C.’s homeless community. 

Brudniak-Berrocal and I had volunteered there before, but that day I accompanied her to work on this project. Her goal in the project is to tell a story through someone’s face and expression, highlighting individual uniqueness through multiple portrait-style photos of homeless people. 

It is also to raise awareness for the local D.C. homeless community, showing that they are humans too. It is too often that we just walk by homeless people, ignoring them and forgetting that they have lives as well.  

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The first step in conducting the project was meeting with Reggie Cox, an ex-homeless person who turned his life around to eventually become the leader of Charlie’s Place. 

Cox told Brudniak-Berrocal that she could do her project there, but finding participants would be hard. After Brudniak-Berrocal said that she spoke fluent Spanish, he gave her some advice. 

“A lot of times it’s about how comfortable they feel with you,” Cox said. “So since you speak Spanish, that gives you a great advantage with our Hispanic members.” 

This ended up being the reason why the majority of her subjects were Hispanic. 

After getting confirmation from Cox, all Brudniak-Berrocal had to do was get her camera and ask people to pose. 

She described why she conducted this project. “A portrait is more than just an image,” Brudniak-Berrocal said. “It tells someone’s story, transporting the viewer into the subject’s world. It captures more than words can write. It’s visual, captivating and real.”

The following are her photos:

Ⅰ. Discovery (Jeremy)

Discovery was very friendly and talkative, especially about journalism, since he used to be a reporter. He agreed to be a part of the project, and when Brudniak-Berrocal pulled out her camera, subconsciously, he dropped the smile and replaced it with a more serious, musing face. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅱ. Sean

Even though Sean was very loud with his friends, he was shy around us. He asked if he could put on his beanie to show his love for the color purple. Brudniak-Berrocal approved. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅲ. Matthew

Matthew was the first subject. Although Brudniak-Berrocal was nervous, Matthew accepted to participate with great enthusiasm. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅳ. José

José was initially very quiet and taken aback, but once he noted that Brudniak Berrocal spoke Spanish, he showed an explosion of goodwill. They began chatting, and quickly Jose agreed to be a part of the project. As he was posing he began laughing. He told us that it felt refreshing to have this attention on him. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅴ. Joshua

Joshua was in a hurry, but when asked, he didn’t turn down the opportunity to participate in the project. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅵ. Saúl

After Saúl saw all his friends take part in the project, he went up to Brudniak-Berrocal and asked her to take a picture of him. He was the only person to do that. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅶ. Jesús

Jesús was hesitant at first, but his group of friends convinced him to pose for a picture. He finally agreed and showed off his blue swag. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅷ. Alfredo

Brudniak-Berrocal asked José if any of his friends wanted to participate, and Alfredo agreed. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

Ⅸ. José  (second photo)

On the second day Brudniak-Berrocal and I went to the church, we ran into José again. He wanted another picture. (Courtesy of Andrea Brudniak-Berrocal)

By Derin Kirtman

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Derin Kirtman
Derin Kirtman, Print Publications Editor/MS News Adviser

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