He was sitting in front of a store in Manhattan holding a sign asking for money. I sat down to speak with him and he told me, "I have a Master's degree for crying out loud, I never thought I would be in this situation." I asked, "What happened?" He looked to the side and said, "Life... My wife died, she had cancer. Then my mom died... It was too much to handle all at once. That was several years ago."
As I snapped a photo of him he said, "I use to be a professional photographer, I traveled all over the world." He spoke very clearly. No mumbling, pronouncing every word as if he were reading from a dictionary. It was obvious that he was educated however, depression was much to strong of an enemy to simply overcome.
With curiosity I had to ask, "What did you shoot with?" He smiled and uttered a single brand response that anyone in the photography world can relate to, "Leica." I knew instantly he was the real thing. "Do you still have any of your equipment," I asked? Pointing at his backpack he said, "No, this is all I have." He told me that he thought about getting back into photography, but at 60 - what few friends he has have discouraged him, telling him he is too old to get back into it. I laughed, "You are not too old. You are never to old to follow a dream. If I bought you a camera, would you go back to shooting?" He said, "I don't know, I may be too old."
I waited too long, he was gone the next day. Even if I did buy the camera, would he have the courage to use it? I will never know.