OA: Volunteer cook uses camera to show plight of homeless
“I’m not trying to make you look happy and comfortable,” local photographer and volunteer Andy Hutmacher tells the homeless people he photographs.
Some smile anyway.
“Portraits of the Poor Among Us”, a photographic exhibit of Grand Valley homeless people by Hutmacher, has its opening reception from 5–8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at 13 Photography Gallery on Main Street. The show runs through the month of October.
“I think it’s a powerful message, people in need, people among us,” said Hutmacher, who wanted to call the show “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
Hutmacher has photographed more than 100 homeless men and women in the past three to four years, he said. Roughly 40 arresting black and white photos were chosen by the gallery for display and sale.
One of the pictures is of a homeless man who recently lost his wife.
“He gets teary-eyed talking about her,” Hutmacher said.
Seven years ago, Hutmacher began volunteering as a cook at the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach Soup Kitchen. He wanted to give back to the community that gave him and his family so much, he said.
Every Wednesday at 7 a.m. Hutmacher begins concocting meals for 200 people out of whatever has been donated to the soup kitchen. Substantial food, he calls it.
“People say, ‘Can I have just a little more of that?’ And I say, ‘Absolutely,’ ” Hutmacher said.
On some days when he’s not cooking, he brings his professional photography equipment to the soup kitchen and photographs mothers, children, couples and singles. In exchange for sitting for a picture, he gives them a copy of the photo.
“He’s just got a good way with people,” said Angela Walsh, director of the soup kitchen. “People notice when he’s not here.”
Walsh keeps a file of the photos for those who have nowhere to put them.
It’s “for some day when they get a place,” she said.
Hutmacher is retired after 38 years of teaching. Sometimes, he sees former students come through the line at the soup kitchen.
Hutmacher chose to put the photographs in black and white because he said it directs attention to the eyes.
All of the pictures were taken in color and digitally.
“I don’t know if my pictures will sell,” Hutmacher said. “But if they do, I don’t want any of (the money).”
The photos are available for purchase at 13 Photography and can be mounted and printed to preference. At the reception, there will be an auction for a photo.
All proceeds from the sale of the portraits will benefit Catholic Outreach. Catholic Outreach also will be accepting donations to the soup kitchen.