photography by annie appel
film-based work *
Dignity (work in progress) 2020
The day arrives when you can no longer
remain mute and you reach for your
hundred-year old 4x5 Crown Graphic- the
most potent camera in your arsenal. You
promise yourself to make portraits every
Sunday morning on Beacon Street, asking
people how long it's been since they've had
a solid roof overhead and what it is they
most need. Processing film in the kitchen
leaves enough time to scan film and make
prints for each person the following
Sunday, if you can find them.
If they haven't been arrested in yet another
police raid. Tents confiscated along with
personal possessions can be re-claimed at
a precinct thirty miles away. Days later
people are released from prison and return
to their previous places on the sidewalks...
They return because they've no other place
to go than this patch of park, overlooking
the largest port in the U.S., that's in the
throes of redevelopment...
A close friend says, "the people in your
portraits look just like ordinary people,"
and you explain that is the whole point.
They are ordinary people, and you realize
you've no choice but to expand the essay.
20 March 2020
Joker (1 year)
First I need God. And second I need housing. And for all
the children around the whole entire earth to be happy.
Mark and his dog Zeus (5 years)
I don't need much. I try to keep things simple. Simplicity
is the essence of beauty. 'May you live as long as you
want, and never want as long as you live.'
Victor (a year or two)
There's not much I really want or need. A home, I guess.
Angel (7 years)
I would like a car to get to work. Right now I'm taking
the bus and sometimes my temp agency sends me far.
Justin (1 year)
I need a place to stay so I can work. It's not how you
start, it's how you finish. God will never give you more
than you can handle.
Quillan (since May 27, 2016 when I got out of prison
after serving 10 years for stupidity in my youth)
I know what I need, but it's a list. I need a shower. We
need housing, which would help start the process of
integrating back into society. It's a domino effect. With
housing we can get a good night sleep. Take a shower.
And I guarantee I can have a job by Monday.
Asjes (since January 14 when I got out of prison)
A roof. Home. That sums it up. I know how to get a
Chata (20 years)
To have a house of apartment so I'm able to have my
Elicia (5-6 years)
We need to get off the street and have a solid foundation
again. To be able to have a home.
Mark (almost 4 years)
Finances. I got blessed with a vehicle and I need finances
to register, transfer and insurance it.That would get us off
The older I get the harder it is to get work. What I enjoy
is roofing and painting homes. But my calling is to be of
service to others. This year I'm trying to take care of us
Louis (5 year)
I need a new plan, or a new outlook even, to help me
get me and my friends get through this. God works in
Catay (3 years)
I'm 62 years old - I need to live in a home. Not the
streets. It's too hard.
Linda (2 years)
I want a home. I want to get off the streets. Stability.
John (on and off for a while)
Nothing. Maybe a phone.
Little Crow (4-5 months)
Prayer for everybody.
Tracy and her dog, Shadow (3 years)
I need my job back. I'm out on disability. And
Housing. Other than that we do alright.
John/"G" (a good year)
What do I really need? Love. I don't like to be taken
Country (a couple months)
Companionship. Good conversation. Someone that's
not afraid to live. Someone with good intentions - that's
not afraid of being treated good, and then treating
someone good in return. I've got god in my life and I'm
clean and sober and I know how to listen.
Mario (5 years)
I need blankets and wipes. That's probably the most
important. You know we don't have sinks out here.
Jennifer (a long time)
I need a job. Ideally in shipping or with the post office.
JoAnn (3 years)
I would like a house so we could all be under the same
roof. We could have Sunday dinner together at a table.
Kathy (6 years)
I guess I need so much. I need a house for starters.
And a car. If you don't have those two there's not
much you can do in life.
Geoffrey (3 years)
It's not what I need. I'm witnessing. The loss of a culture.
It's a sense of being okay. A sense of being safe. It's the
loss of America for all, or its greatest challenge to preserve
Michael (4 years- off and on my whole life- my mom
kicked me out at 15- I'm 39- the lonest I've stayed in one
place is three years)
For everyone to practice the Golden Rule. Do unto others
as you would have done unto you. Whatever question you
have, apply the Golden Rule and it solves everything.
Tshaye (a year now)
My family. I want to go back hoome. That's what I
need. I don't need anything else. My family's just up the
Janie (1 year)
I want to go into politics.
Olsiner (almost a year)
Discipline, income, and integrity so I can stop fucking
around. I'm just trying to take the next step in life. This
is a temporary stop right here.
Tina (4 years)
Stable housing environment and better health.
Leche (3 years)
I need my family together, but that's impossible.
Economically I need a roof. And sometimes I need
someone to talk to.
William (off and on for 5 years)
I need some place where I can live that's safe and
gives me the opportunities to find a job and have some
self-respect. The shame is the worst part.
Kelli (2 weeks)
I need a home. And a job to support myself.