Seven years ago, Lee Jeffries found himself wandering London with a camera he'd taught himself to use. He aimed his lens at young, homeless woman he noticed across the street, huddled up in a sleeping bag for warmth. The woman spotted him and started shouting in anger. Jeffries decided to go over and speak with her.
After he learned her story, he decided to start a photography project that featured poignant portraits of homeless people. His intimate portraits capture raw, heart-wrenching emotion of the homeless, sharing a side of them the general public often doesn't see.
Jeffries learned a lot from that first experience. "I never ask for a photograph without spending time with them" Jeffries told Buzzfeed. "I'm not there to take photographs. I'm getting something far more personal from the interaction if I'm honest. "Once those connections are made, the moments I capture with the camera become spontaneous."
He doesn't just spend time with the people he takes portraits of, but also the community they live in. He sleeps, eats and walks the streets there to help him understand the people he meets and develop connections with them.
After spending so much time with the homeless, he's seen their tears, laughter, joy and loneliness. One of the most unforgettable experiences was when he witnessed a death in Miami. "I was with a group of prostitutes in the Overtown area," he told Buzzfeed. "They all looked out for each other, but they were hopelessly addicted to heroin. One of the times I was there, one of the group… had just been released from prison. I watched as she injected herself. A few hours later she was dead. I've seen a lot, but I doubt I will ever get over that experience."