#DoSomethingForNothing NYC

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The simple tools of compassion. ©Valérie Jardin

I finally had the opportunity to spend a few days with Joshua Coombes, the founder of #DoSomethingForNothing, and document his humanitarian work on the streets of New York City.

Josh is a young hairstylist from London who started giving free haircuts to homeless people during his time off, in an attempt to brighten up their day. The project, known as #DoSomethingForNothing, soon became his mission and he has been traveling to major cities around the world to touch lives, one person at a time.

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Joshua Coombes at Coney Island last week.  ©Valérie Jardin

Josh and I have known each other online ever since he started his project 2 years ago. We’ve been following each other’s work, determined that one day our paths would cross, and I would have the opportunity to tell his story through my lens. Thanks to the support of Fujifilm North America, who brought us together on the streets of New York City for 4 days last week, we finally made it happen!

We hit the ground running as soon as I landed on Tuesday afternoon. Josh had arrived from the U.K. a couple of days earlier. I couldn’t wait to meet Josh and start documenting his work. My X100F was loaded and ready to capture compassion and hope.

Over the following four days on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, we met people from all different backgrounds. Homelessness can happen to anyone at any time. White or black, young or old, misfortune and adversity don’t discriminate.

Working with my Fujifilm X100F was the perfect choice for this project. The 23mm focal length allowed me to be physically close, while its small size and silent shutter made it unobtrusive and non intimidating. Every subject agreed to be photographed, but I didn’t start shooting right away, and Josh didn’t start cutting hair immediately either. Our first role was to listen, wipe tears and give hugs. We were always rewarded by the brightest smiles in the end!

What’s next for Josh? He obviously found his calling. As he recently wrote on Instagram: “This isn’t charity, it’s connection. It’s keeping all doors open to listen to others and learn.” I want to do all I can to support him in his mission to bring smiles in our challenging world, one haircut at a time. By doing so and sharing his experience, he is influencing others to also Do Something For Nothing, whatever that may be.

As for me, this project was life changing. I’ve been wanting to work on a humanitarian project for quite a while, and this is the perfect fit. Josh and I work well as a team, and the images I collected were definitely the most important photographs I’ve ever shot.

We wish to keep working together whenever possible to document other stories in other cities, to raise awareness and share the love. We are planning to write an ebook #DoSomethingForNothing in NYC in the next few months to raise funds to help Josh keep doing what he does with so much passion. We also want to show the recent photo documentary in galleries.

Here are a few of the beautiful souls we met on the street of NYC last week. This is a sneak peek! More photographs with their stories will be included in the ebook. To be notified of its release, please follow this blog or sign up to my mailing list. Don’t forget to follow Josh on Instagram to see his before and after pics!

Note: Listen to episode 52 on my podcast Hit The Streets with Valerie Jardin for a special conversation with Joshua Coombes.

Your help is important, take a moment to write a comment and please, share this post!

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Tony in Tompkins Park ©Valérie Jardin

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Tony holds Josh’s hand with gratitude. ©Valérie Jardin

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Tony’s friend Smiley also wanted a buzz cut on a hot September day. ©Valérie Jardin

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Janusz was next… ©Valérie Jardin

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…and he could not stop smiling when he saw the transformation! ©Valérie Jardin

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This mirror has seen a lot of joy and hope! ©Valérie Jardin

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Near Grand Central, we met a young couple living on the streets. Josh first gave young Terry a cool new do. ©Valérie Jardin

 

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Then it was Eveylon’s turn. Those two are so much in love! ©Valérie Jardin

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Neither the rain, nor the looks from passers-by would deter Josh from his mission.          ©Valérie Jardin

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At Herald Square, Melissa becomes emotional as she tells Josh how she wishes to go back to her kids. ©Valérie Jardin

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For a moment, Michael forgets the harsh reality of life on the streets and simply enjoys the sunshine and the feel of a fresh shave at Brighton Beach. ©Valérie Jardin

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My most meaningful silhouette photograph yet! ©Valérie Jardin

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Roman, from Ukraine, was sitting alone at Asser Levy Park in Brooklyn. He only spoke a few words of English. It’s obvious that he has a big heart and he also smiles with his eyes.       ©Valérie Jardin

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Irish Mike is the king of Washington Square Park. He is full of life and wanted to make sure Josh would not cut his adorable curls too short 😉 ©Valérie Jardin

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We made some Instax Mini prints of the encounter. Mike said he would send one with his new look to his mom. ©Valérie Jardin

Your help is important, take a moment to write a comment and please, share this post!

 

8 thoughts on “#DoSomethingForNothing NYC

  1. Both, Josh and Valerie, doing a meaningful work. It`s so lovely to see how Josh do Something for nothing and it`s also so important to bring it in to the Spotlight!! All these smiles are so special. Keep this lovely work alive……

    Liked by 1 person

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