For over a year, All City photographers Travis Jensen (pictured left) and Brad Evans (right) have been regularly hanging out in the Tenderloin and photographing it. There’s always a lot of activity in the streets and people to talk to, so they kept coming back for more. They loved engaging people and chatting with them, Brad told me, and after each visit they felt really energized. But talking to other San Francisco photographers they were often asked things like “Isn’t the TL dangerous?”, “Have you ever been hassled?” or simply “Any bad experiences?”. Most of them were shocked and probably disappointed to discover that they really didn’t have any ‘war stories’ to share.
That’s when they started realizing that most San Francisco photographers avoid the Tenderloin, preferring other neighborhoods they perceive as ‘safer’ for street photography. So after a few months Travis and Brad decided to do something with all those photos they had been shooting, and this eventually led to a book that they have simply titled ‘Tenderloin USA‘ that they are now selling online. It’s mainly a collection of gorgeous black-and-white portraits of people they’ve encountered in the neighborhood, some of them with an accompanying story giving context (unfortunately, not all). Their ultimate goal, they say in the book, is that “you, the reader, will walk away from ‘Tenderloin USA’ with a fresh perspective about the neighborhood”.
Priced at $20, ALL proceeds after printing costs will go directly to Larkin Street Youth Services, a charity organization providing homeless, runaway and at-risk youth ages 12-24 with various support services, including emergency shelter, primary medical care, transitional housing, job training and scholarship assistance, amongst other services.
But if you’re too lazy to order the book online, or already got your copy but would like to meet Brad and Travis in person, tonight from 6 to 10pm they’re having their official launch party at Ever Gold Gallery where they’ll be selling some copies. There’ll be large-size prints of their photos, (free) drinks & nibbles, music, predictably lots of photographers and your unique chance to chat with them about their project and tell them what you (truly) think about it.
See you tonight!