How The Unwanted Project Changed The Way I See Myself

What a long strange trip it’s been. For the last 4 years Thilde has worked tirelessly on traveling around the US and photographing homeless in different cities. Most of these trips we took together, living out of our minivan. The work was hard, waking at 5 AM before the sun and heading into the city to photograph all day. By the time the day was over, we would both always be exhausted. Our trials paled in comparison to what the homeless all over this country have to endure every single day. This book is about them, and their struggle, captured in an authentic and real way.

James was one of Thilde’s first connections to the homeless, since he was 18 James has weathered the cold winters sleeping outside in Syracuse – Image by Thilde Jenson

The Kickstarter campaign can be found here. Please consider funding it and sharing it on your social media accounts. I know it’s a big ask, but I’ve seen all the photos and I can tell you that no one who buys this book is going to be disappointed.

Thilde and I travel to Denmark every year and I make it a point to look for homeless people everywhere we go. Even in Copenhagen, you are hard pressed to find anyone who looks like they are homeless. In comparison, this country has a homeless epidemic with millions of Americans on the street, left to fend for themselves. As a nation we have to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask the question, “Is this who we are?”

Bobby in Vegas has been homeless for 13 years – Image by Thilde Jenson

While traveling around the country and meeting all kinds of homeless in every walk of life I couldn’t help hearing this mantra in my head.

“Contribute or die”

That is the energy that is projected to every single American citizen. If you can’t contribute to society as a whole then we don’t want you. Once you fall into homelessness, even those willing and able to work realize that they can’t find a job. They run into the same problem everywhere they go, no one wants to hire a person without a home, for any job.

Cindy with her wig, Las Vegas – Image by Thilde Jenson

I think it is important for everyone to see the homeless and to not just look away. Everybody who becomes homeless have a story of the their lives before they were on the streets.

People lack the imagination to think that they could ever be hungry or living on the streets. They think their life is so solid and stable, yet when tragedy strikes and they lose a loved one or get injured suddenly they realize they are out on the street with no way to make a living. There is an imaginary wall separating us from them, but it is all an illusion of separation. We are all human. We should all treat each other with dignity and respect.

The reality is that we do not.

Jacob’s shelter, Las Vegas – Image by Thilde Jenson

As a society and as a people we can do a lot better. At some point we have to look at ourselves and decide if we truly are a compassionate nation or if we are not. One of the guiding principles in my life has always been:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you live with that goal in mind, it is hard to go down the wrong path.

Thilde’s website can be found at with more of her work and where her first photobook The Canaries can be purchased. To help fund the kickstarter campaign for The Unwanted or share on social media use this link:

2 thoughts on “How The Unwanted Project Changed The Way I See Myself

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