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Instagram Celebrity : Putting A Face On The Homeless Through Instagram

onedollardreams

In my short time as an Instagram user, I’ve come to realize that the app is for more than just sharing random pictures, it is also great for sharing stories. I’ve come across several inspring Instagramers one of whom is @cachafaz who helps homeless people tell their story using Instagram.

@cachafaz known as Pachi Tamer in real life is on a mission to help homeless people communicate and meet their needs by using the power of Instagram. He has taken over 650 portraits of homeless people to date in four cities – Austin, Los Angeles, Medellín (Colombia) and México City (México) and has plans to travel to Uruguay and few other countries this year. Pachi’s photo stream which only features homeless people is very well received on Instagram – he has over 10k followers who are highly appreciative and responsive to his work. The overwhelming support from the Instagram community led to Pachi starting the One Dollar Dreams Project, to help realize the dreams of homeless people.

In an interview with Dutiee, Pachi shares his motivation, approach and impact of his Instagram work.

Deepa Chaudhary (DC): Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Pachi Tamer (PT): I’m from a little city called Pergamino, which is 3 hours away from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I work as Associate Creative Director at LatinWorks, an advertising agency based in Austin, Texas. Even though my background is in copywriting, photography was always one of my passions. I’m just a regular guy with a powerful weapon: an iPhone.

DC: Since when have you been on Instagram?

PT: I posted my first shot on November 22nd, 2010. At the beginning when I discovered Instagram I was shooting anything I found interesting. In my earlier feed you can find pictures of my 3yr old daughter, doors, cemeteries (which are places I always like to visit), some minimal stuff (playing with textures, colors and lights) and some street photography as well.

DC: Your stream of photos capture homeless people. Why did you choose this subject?

PT: One day I found a guy lying on the street asking for money. So I approached him and asked him for a picture. We talked for about half an hour about politics and some other things, and finally, I got the portrait. After that I just started taking portraits of homeless people and with practice I got better at it. Taking the picture is a very small part of the process for me. I got better at approaching them, at explaining my project, at not being afraid. I’ve got a lots of no’s and I’m still getting them, but most of the time I walk away with a new portrait and something much more important, a new story, a new experience, and sometimes, a new friend.

DC: How do you go about looking for them and engaging them in getting a picture?

PT: I approach them with respect. I shake their hands. I sit on the street besides them. I share a cigarette with them. I ask them how they’re doing. Then I explain my project and sometimes show them a couple of other pictures. I listen to them. They trust me because I trust them.

DC: Do you have any plans to take your collection outside of Instagram in terms of generating awareness for the cause? I see you have a website, could you tell us a bit about how you plan to leverage these pictures and the goodwill you’ve generated around them?

PT: One day I took a picture of a guy named Jim. After taking the portrait we chatted for a while. He told me he was of German descent, and before he left, he said: “You know what? There’s only one thing I wanna do before I die: Oktoberfest.” And I thought, such a simple dream, how nice would it be to make it happen. And… Wait a minute… If all the followers I have on Instagram donate one dollar, I can take this guy to Germany! And that’s how it started. The good ideas grow by themselves, and that’s what’s happening with One Dollar Dreams. Now besides Jim, we have Alex in Rehab in Medellín, Colombia, and Bob, a guy that deserves a bike for all the people who laugh at his face. I’m creating a non-profit organization and the site is up and running at www.one-dollar-dreams.com. I’m planning to publish a book for every country or location I visit, and use the money for the cause. I’m also planning an exhibition sometime next year in Austin and I’m invited to give a conference in Uruguay, for Desachate, the annual convention of creativity in that country. I have a lot of ideas for the future. And the future is happening right now.

DC: How did you manage to get the large number of followers that you have today?

PT: I just had a good idea with a nice concept, and commented and liked a lot of other people’s pictures.

DC: How has your profiling of the homeless been received by the Instagram Community? Could you share some of the responses you get to your pictures?

PT: I’m receiving such an amazing support from all over the world through Instagram that I just can’t believe it. It has changed my life for real. There’s so many messages of love and support. I could write a book with them. Here are some, and I feel sorry that I can’t include all of them and most of the time I can’t reply to all.

@tuttoeniente
People like you, so compassionate for others in need, give me hope. And I don’t meet them very often.Some think one person can’t make a change, but you’ve inspired me and I’m pretty sure that many other people too. Keep it up! Amazing work!

@whoaitsamantha
When they talk about karma and what you do will come back to you, well you, are going to have a beautiful life.

@mononoaware_
@cachafaz You’re a wonderful example of how a simple idea and a generous heart are able to make a significant difference. Thank you for being such an inspirational and positive influence!

@marissafoodnart
What you did for this guy is amazing! Your compassion and mission are so beautiful! Thank you for bringing such goodness into the world…

@hollz678
Thank you for your passionate convictions! You are such a light to others! Not only to those less fortunate, but to those who are fortunate and need their eyes opened. God bless your kind soul!

@enchiladajo
Your heart is something else…the selflessness and giving ways are contagious. Pachi you bring tears to my eyes sometimes because you want others like Alex feel loved and not alone in the world and that is wonderful. You my friend, are a beautiful soul

DC: What other apps do you use to give your photos the unique look?

PT: I have 60 photography apps in my iPhone. Some of my preferred apps are: Qbro, Snapseed, Picfx, Phototoaster, Photoforge 2, Photogene 2, Filterstorm, Noir, Ps Express, Luminance, Camera+ and of course, Instagram. I’m always looking for new apps though, and I don’t mind spending a dollar or two to try them out. When I change locations, I also change the filter combination of my pictures, trying always to maintain a consistent style. Many people ask me exactly what apps I use for each series. Before every trip, I spend days looking for different combinations, saving them, and writing down the formulas, until I find a winner. It’s what makes my personal style my own. And you know what? I have a lot of fun doing it. I think everyone should do it. It’s what’s going to differentiate your work from mine. It’s what’s going to make you feel proud of it.

Visit One Dollar Dreams website to learn how Pachi is helping homeless people realize their dreams.

Previously, I wrote about another inspiring Intragramer @ktrap who uses Instragram to share stories of people living in poverty in developing countries.

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    Deepa Chaudhary
    I have extensively worked at grass-roots from working in the slums of Mumbai to being on the frontline of numerous disaster relief efforts. I'm passionate about social entrepreneurship and I love discovering and writing about new trends in the social good space.
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