Updated: Tragic Story of Former Photoj Inspires Upswell of Support on FB

Yesterday photojournalist Benjamin Lowy posted a photograph on Instagram and Facebook of a man he identified as a former photojournalist, who through a series of tragic circumstances found himself living on the street. Lowy shared his image of the man, named Scott Sutton, and recounted the conversation he and Sutton had on the street near Union Square in New York City. After Lowy told Sutton that he is a photojournalist, “the conversation took a turn to the surreal,” Lowy wrote.

Sutton told Lowy that he had once been a photojournalist as well. According to Lowy, Sutton told him he’d lost everyone close to him, including his wife, who passed away, and has been on the street for two years.

Many in and out of the photo community have shared the story and posted nearly 100 comments on Facebook. Several people have said they know Sutton and have offered to help him. “Very difficult to see him this way but any of us could easily find ourselves in the same spot,” wrote Patrick Whalen, a Wall Street Journal photo editor who said he worked with Sutton in the 90s.

As of this afternoon, Lowy wrote an update saying that since the post yesterday, “quite a few of his friends have contacted me from RIT – where he did his PJ grad schooling, and Archive Photos – where he was a darkroom tech in the 90’s. Currently we are all trying to figure out how to best help him, and I’ll be going back out today to try and find him.”

Lowy’s image and story are here, on his Facebook page.

Update: A previous version of this article stated that Sutton had worked as a photojournalist for Getty Images. A Getty representative told PDNPulse via email that Sutton never worked as a Getty Images photographer.

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3 Responses to “Updated: Tragic Story of Former Photoj Inspires Upswell of Support on FB”

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  3. Jez Says:

    This may sound like a cliché but I do have a clue as to how this guy feels right now.
    A few years ago I had another nervous breakdown and came back to the UK to seek help.
    I ended up being homeless and sleeping on the streets of London.
    More than anything, I felt as if my dignity had been taken from me.
    I remember once, whilst sleeping out the back of Coutts bank seeing some of my old fellow photographers getting out of a car, just a few feet away from where I was lying. I hid my head under my cardboard ‘duvet’
    Remember that the guy, Scott Sutton IS a photographer, not was.
    Where ever he goes he will feel that people are looking at him and saying “tramp” under their breath.
    I still had my Billingham bag with me when I was sleeping rough; it proved to be a good pillow.
    I imagine that Scott will spend a lot of his time thinking “What happened, why did this happen to me?”
    In the UK, we can have a very good system for getting out of homelessness but we need help, as does Scott Sutton.
    It can be the little things that can help so much. I was fortunate in the fact that I could get a shower two or three times a week and had somewhere to wash the few items of clothing that I had. I just wanted a set of nail clippers.
    People that are homeless are ‘blamed’ for their situation. Scott Sutton did not wish to be in the situation he is in now.
    I don’t know the situation in the US and how they help people like Scott.
    I was very lucky; I managed to get myself in a hostel; with help. The hostel had 150 other ‘tramps’ staying there.
    I spent ten months in that place, I had a bed, a room and meals were cooked for me.
    It was not ideal; it was just a step along the way. I could now shower every day and I had my nail clippers.
    When you are ‘on the streets’ anything is an improvement.
    Scott may not want to approach people from his ‘old life’ he may have wanted to keep his ‘shame’ to himself.
    He is still Scott, the photographer.
    I hardly told anyone that I was homeless and here I am now blurting it all out. Of course, Scott will find that some people will always say “He used to be a tramp” He is a human being that has suffered, he did not want any of this to happen, it all just got too much for him.
    Remember the feeling when you got your first ever by-line and how many copies of that magazine/paper you bought? A bed, a room, being able to cook your own meals will feel like that for Scott.
    Just think how we take everything we have now in our lives for granted. At this moment in his life, Scott doesn’t have that, being able to pop in the kitchen and make a coffee when he feels like it, getting into his bed after a bath and snuggling down for a good night’s sleep knowing that he will not be moved on or having to wake as the passers-by start they daily walk to their jobs.