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Tampa photographer creates book from photos of the homeless telling their stories

Posted at 2:26 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 17:37:12-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla --- A Tampa photographer is finding the homeless and capturing their stories through the lenses of his camera.

"Why not people who live on the streets. I mean that’s our humanity, that’s our fellow humans on the street. Why do I call attention to them, because they are basically invisible,” said Renato Rampolla, Tampa photographer.

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Rampolla said every snap shot begins with a conversation.

"Seldom do people say, ‘Hey what’s your name, how did you end up like this, what’s going on?'” said Rampolla. "The goal is really just to show some respect. It’s really not to get the picture, if the picture happens that’s great, sometimes people don’t want their picture taken and that’s fine.”

For some of these men and women, it’s the first time they’ve had their photo taken in years.

"One lady I gave a picture to, she carried it around with her for about six months. When I saw her again, she pulled it out of her backpack and it was all wrinkled, but she was very proud of how she looked in that picture,” said Rampolla.

When he realized there was a public demand for his portfolio, he decided to compile a book - "Dignity No Matter What."

In the book, Rampolla shares a little antidote about each person featured.

"It was just something I had to do, I had to get this story out there,” said Rampolla.

All proceeds of the book go toward the homeless community through Blanket Tampa Bay.

“And they give away backpack products, hygiene products and shoes for the homeless,” said Rampolla.

Rampolla also credits the Hillsborough County Arts Council for a grant that helped him receive valuable equipment to pursue these photos.

For more information on Rampolla, and his series, click here.