Photographer Horia Manolache had a goal when he started his latest project “The Prince and the Pauper“. He wanted to show homeless people in a new way to help make their stories heard. Inspired by Mark Twain’s novel, Horia’s series shows homeless people as they are and as they’d once dreamed to become. It’s quite a stark contrast.
Shot in a mobile studio, the preparations for each subject lasted between one and three weeks depending on how quickly he could find subjects. Horia’s wife assisted him on the shoots, helping with haircuts and make up while he found the costumes.
Tammy is a star on Height Street in San Francisco. If she can’t bring a smile on your face, then nobody will.
Her biggest pain is that her grandmother and her first husband took the kids away from her.
I met Frank in Hunterspoint, San Francisco. He lived in a self-made trailer along with his wife and her dog. A big concern for him was that the police will take his house. He says he was raised with a butler but drugs brought him here. He was working in constructions when I met him, we had to photograph him on the street and on a building site.
His wife wished to be a ballerina but because she was overweight, she felt uncomfortable to pose for this project. Frank is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.
Max is a Vietnam and Gulf war veteran. He’d been serving the army for 43 years. He says that when he returned he gave up everything and went on the streets. He has now problems with alcohol and he barely walks because of the health problems. He traveled a lot.
A regret that he has is that he doesn’t speak with his daughter anymore.
Honey run away from home because of her violent husband. She had a car in which she slept but it broke and the police took it so she had to sleep in the park. She learned how to play ukulele by herself and she knows how to sing with spoons.
She is called Honey because of her sweet voice. She had her first performance in the hotel where I photographed her.
Bill had to run away from the state he was living. The reason he had to leave seems unjust but his alternative was jail.
He wished to send these photos to his mother because she has Alzheimer and in this way she will recognise him when he will be back.
Henry is a former drug and alcohol addict. He is selling news papers now for an organisation that takes care of the homeless people.
He is from Mississippi, at a point in his life he had to choose between his mother and father and that marked him.
Mike was the first to be in this project. He comes from Ohio, he had to run from there because he used to smoke weed and the police caught him so he was arrested.
He is now rebuilding his life, he has a place to stay and he started to work, thanks to an organisation from San Francisco.
Pops was in the Vietnam war also. He was an engineer, he started to do drugs and he lost his job.
He was addicted for 12 years and he was in a rehab clinic. Unfortunately, he is now an alcoholic.
Hatter was one person that helped me with this project. He had a company that did events in California but once. During one event, the authorities found somebody that was under 18.
He got fined for more than $100,000 so he had to quit.
Jennifer from the McCloud family. She came from Ireland along with her husband but somewhere in the way they got divorced.
She is very shy when she is sober.
Dan had a tumultuous life, he ended on the streets not long ago. He is a writer and the chance made to find out that we have friends in common.
He will use this photo for the next book he will publish.
I met Michael twice, first we couldn’t do the photo shoot and he was really angry. I met him again after several months and he seemed reconciled with himself. In this photo he shows me the tattoo with his son’s name and he tells me that he misses him.
He lost his mom, his job and his house in two days.
This photo is somehow symbolic for me for the times we live in. His identity was stolen, his girlfriend stole his wallet, his credit score went down and so on till he got homeless.
He realised that his life was so overwhelming so he didn’t have a moment to stop and think what his dreams were.
McKayas lived very close to Haight Street when he was a kid. He is proud that his parents were part of the hippie movement in the 60’s.
He lived in Mexico, Hawaii, Indonesia, Panama, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru and he plans to visit every country in the world.
Hearing and reading the stories that go along with the images is a sad reminder that this could happen to any of us, through no fault of our own.
Horia Manolache is an editorial portrait photographer and Photography MFA student at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He also earned a degree in filmmaking in Romania. You can find out more about him on his website, follow his work on Instagram, or reach out to him through Facebook.
Horia is currently in the process of raising funds to publish the work in a book and donate to the Taking It To The Streets organisation. You can find out more information and order a copy for yourself on Indiegogo.