Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

LA's homeless as seen through a Kiwi's eyes

A homeless woman in Los Angeles from a series of pictures taken by New Zealander Michael Pharaoh.
A homeless woman in Los Angeles from a series of pictures taken by New Zealander Michael Pharaoh.

A young amateur Kiwi photographer's holiday project has produced haunting images of Los Angeles street people.

Hamilton graphic designer Michael Pharaoh, 22, has released seven striking photographs of Hollywood's homeless that he shot in the city better known for its celebrities and luxurious lifestyles.

The Homeless of L.A. is Mr Pharaoh's first "proper" photography project - he was given his Canon 60D camera for his 21st birthday.

The images have been credited for drawing the audience in with his subject's eyes glistening in contrast to their grimy and ragged appearances.

"The eyes of a person are the one key element that makes them human," he said. "It's the thing you look at when you talk to people and the one thing that can portray so many different emotions through one part of the face.

"It was a big part for me to focus on the eyes because regardless of someone's situation in society they still have human eyes."

Mr Pharaoh gave each of his subjects money before asking their permission to be photographed, and spoke to them about their lives.

"It was pretty sad hearing their stories and seeing what they were doing.

"They were really friendly, I'm still pretty astounded that people lived like that. One lady especially I remember the most. She said she had 40 cats and the money would help feed her cats for a little bit."

Mr Pharaoh's work has been featured by the Daily Mail, Huffington Post and CNN and he has had offers for book, magazine and exhibition collaborations.

He hopes to print the series on to canvas and sell them, donating the profits to Red Cross.

- NZ Herald

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