Benjamin Lowy, a photographer represented by Reportage by Getty Images, met Scott Sutton, a man panhandling, outside the Union Square movie theater in New York last November. Scott was holding a sign that read "Give selflessly and you will reap endlessly," and Benjamin walked over. They discussed Scott's struggle being homeless for the past two years, and compared shoes. Scott found his in the garbage, while Benjamin was in the combat boots he wore while photographing Afghanistan. That's when Benjamin explained, "the conversation took a turn to the surreal."
Lowy started his career in photography covering the Iraq War in 2003, and he has also worked throughout Darfur, Afghanistan, and most recently Libya. When Scott saw the combat boots, he asked Benjamin if he was in the Army. Benjamin explained he was a photojournalist to which Scott surprisingly admitted he used to be a photojournalist as well - covering the Balkans for Getty Images. He further explained, "There came a point in my life when everyone I knew died. I lost everyone in my family. My wife, 13 years younger then me, she used to joke that she would die young, and she did [die] of heart disease two years ago. I lost and I took a leave of absence." He paused to look Scott in the eye to add, "Well, you know what they say, when it rains it pours, and here I am now. On the street. Begging."
Since last November, Benjamin and his wife have been building up a relationship with Scott and also have been contacted by his long-lost family, former friends and colleagues. "It has been a long process to help Scott prepare for a life out of the streets. Its been his reality for too long," Lowy admitted. Benjamin posted the above image of Scott along with his story last year and was amazed photography community's support. He and his wife have arranged a few resources to Scott, which have helped for immediate needs, but he needs more so they set up a fundraising campaign.
We have gotten a few resources to Scott, which have helped for immediate needs. Everything is moving in positive directions, which is why we are now asking for your help.
- Scott needs a place to stay, a place to sleep out of the cold. We are looking at SRO availability in the city.
- He has not had dental work done in quite awhile and needs extensive dental work done.
- He needs a therapist to start helping him deal with his losses and get back to feeling worthwhile, until we can get his medicaid set up.
- He needs a small budget so he is assured of a meal each day.
We are hoping with your help, we can make those plans a reality. Scott is even optimistic about getting back into his photography work. We will keep you posted as we move along.
UPDATE: Ben wanted to clarify that Scott didn't work directly for Getty Images but instead for Archive Photos as the darkroom manager (which was later bought by Getty), and also that Scott attended RIT studying photography.
UPDATE: Scott's sister Roxanne visited with him and reported back some real positive improvements in his situation. The goal is at 94% which is also super amazing!