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salt lake city UNCOVERED

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salt lake city UNCOVERED

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Project Wake Up Call: Salt Lake City Uncovered is an art project dedicated to raising awareness and funds for The Road Home, a non-profit that assists the homeless in Salt Lake City and along the Wasatch Front. Now, through The Road Home, you can help individuals and families experiencing homelessness find a place to call home. Get Involved.

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about the cause

The Road Home is a private non-profit social services agency that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in. Operating the largest shelter in Utah, emergency shelter and personalized case management is provided to help people identify and overcome the obstacles that have led them to becoming homeless. Addressing a spectrum of needs from supplying a bus token to providing comprehensive housing programs, The Road Home helps people move into permanent housing as quickly as possible.

about the Photographer

Ian Tong is a New York-based photographer originally from Hong Kong. With over 15 years in the industry, his experience encompasses a wide range of commissioned and personal photographic work. A series of personal projects currently keeps him busy, taking him to memorable locales such as Stockholm and Shanghai.

Tong’s personal work is concerned with environmental and societal issues that has been recognized regularly and featured in various competitions. His work has been selected for the prestigious American Photography annuals 27, 28 and 30. Also of particular note is his inclusion in the Aperture Foundation 2014 summer open exhibition.

Ian has a BA from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and a MFA degree from Pratt Institute, New York, NY.

Salt Lake City Gallery


Salt Lake City Gallery


salt lake city Uncovered gallery

To bring Project Wake Up Call to life in Salt Lake City, urban photographer, Ian Tong, was tasked with creating a photo series that uncovered the living situation of the homeless community of Salt Lake City, Utah and along the Wasatch Front.

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Thick black smoke billowing up from a house burning down in the distance. 

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The house burning down had been a known drug factory at one time. 

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After the fire. The building is still standing but sealed up from entry.

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Sealed up building from a distance.

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The signs of homelessness are not always obvious but are more evident when one looks closely. In Artesian Well Park, where people come to fill their jugs with well water, partially hidden away are the belongings and bedding of a homeless individual.

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John in Pioneer Park. He depended on his electric wheelchair for mobility.

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Christopher, nearby The Road Home shelter. He was new to the city and was looking for work. He was traveling alone and explained he had a work orientation at the Sephora Distribution Center but was lost. He had a gentle and sincere manner about him and described the prevalence of drug abuse in the area. He said that drugs such as heroine, meth, and crack are cheap and easily accessible. His phone wasn’t functioning and when pointed in the right direction to the distribution center, it was discovered to be a 2 1/2 hour walk away from the current location. 

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James in the park. James was a musician who toured the world at one time, playing the drums and saxophone. He seemed to have a creative flair standing in front of his bike dressed in a purple robe. He said he’s not unhappy being homeless. He was charming and articulate and described how he enjoys the company of others that he meets on the streets. To stay safe, he had a network of friends that formed a sort of a buddy system to rely on. He mentioned he had a good relationship with police; saying, ‘it’s all in the way you relate and communicate with them’ and also that he had been around long enough that they’re familiar with him. He mentioned that being in the cold is tough but that he was used to it. James is 68 years old and a Vietnam veteran. 

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William is a buddy of James’. Says he went to college and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

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A diminutive homeless woman zipping past, wheeling her shopping cart past a boarded up house.

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Ed Lambrecht, an elderly man, explained that he’s technically not homeless as he lives in a residential complex close by. Nonetheless he’s still financially in need. He regretted having to beg for money and proclaimed that he would gladly work for money, but bemoaned that no one would hire an old guy like him.

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a note from Ian

“Working to photograph the homeless in DC for PWUC has been an engaging and revealing experience for me. As we go about our daily routines, often we are unaware of how fortunate we are in our own lives. In the past, DC had a reputation for urban blight and rough neighborhoods. On the whole, that is mostly gone, in its place I found a city that was revitalized with many different and vibrant neighborhoods. Yet despite these changes, I saw a large homeless population; people who were either living on the streets or in shelters.

Travelling around DC with my assistant, we talked to many of these individuals and I asked to photograph them. While some declined, many were open to being photographed and willing to talk to us about their experience of living without a home. Life on the streets was a struggle but was easier during the mild and warm months. With numerous parks and outdoor areas in DC, there are plenty of places to hang out and pass the time. As winter approached though, many expressed the coming need to access indoor shelter.

There are a number of shelters and food pantries in DC and they form an important part of the support system for the homeless. As I travelled around the city, we learnt that many of the homeless follow a particular routine. For instance, people we met in the evening, we would meet again the next day as they travelled to the food kitchen or library across town. (image of buildings with graffiti)

We met people who had touching stories and unfortunate situations. Some lost their jobs, some suffered health issues and some were recovering addicts. We saw that many of these individuals stayed in groups for friendship, safety, and support. This experience has made me more aware of the daily struggles the homeless face. It is not an easy struggle but I am hopeful for many of the individuals I met.”

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Salt Lake City Uncovered


Salt Lake City Uncovered


ABOUT HOTEL RL salt lake city

Located in the heart of downtown, Hotel RL offers a taste of the local scene in a laid-back environment. Each of the 394 rooms provide signature top beds for guests to relax and rejuvenate after exploring endless outdoor opportunities with complimentary Villy Custom bicycles. Both local experts and active members of the community, associates pride themselves in being a part of Project Wake Up Call that supports their Olympic city.