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Going under by Steve Axford

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A slightly less confronting version, though some will still hate it. This was taken in Java, though it really could be anywhere. I do not know why the man was there, but I’m sure it is not pleasant. It is hard to know what to do when you see things like this. Most times, we just cross the road and walk on, pretending he wasn’t there. I took a photo. Perhaps it will mean that I have the courage not to just walk by next time, or someone who sees it not to walk by next time. It another time and place, it could be me, or you.


man, misery

I live in the Northern Rivers of NSW and this is where much of my photography comes from, apart from the obvious like volcanoes. You can see more of my work at

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  • jaffa
    jaffaalmost 7 years ago

    very thought provoking. love the pic.

  • Zeanana
    Zeananaalmost 7 years ago

    I still remember the debates and discussions that were posted underneath the original shot you had first uploaded… Back then, this picture already raised goosebumps, alarm bells, the hanging head – for I felt, I think I would lack the courage, that you described…
    This picture is a remainder for me not to just walk away, or turn away, though it is the hardest thing…

  • Judith Oppenheimer
    Judith Oppenhe...almost 7 years ago

    i don’t find this image offensive. the treatment is beautiful and respectful. that such conditions exist is offensive.

  • Steve Axford
    Steve Axfordalmost 7 years ago

    THanks guys. I suspect that most people in this sort of situation have some form of mental illness, or at least what we would escribe as such, that makes it difficult for “normal” people to interact with them. The Javanese are genrally a generous people and will help anyone who asks – but if you don’t know how to ask?

  • Eyal Nahmias
    Eyal Nahmiasalmost 7 years ago

    I find this image very powerful and very evocative, as you said it can be anywhere in the world but it does raise social concerns and questions on how we take care of people in need. I’m glad you did not walk away and clicked the shutter release. The artistic interpretation you created may help other people see this image in a more compasionate way.

  • Jocelyn Hyers
    Jocelyn Hyersalmost 7 years ago

    I agree … this IS very thought provoking … and I do not find it offensive … I would not have been offended at the original image … thank you for sharing this moment with us … hopefully this man was able to find better circumstances in his life …

  • smokipoki
    smokipokialmost 7 years ago

    This certainly inspires thought.. hopefully something like this image will make us all stop to count our blessings rather than grumble about the comodities we never had, or believe we may never have in our lives..It was brave of you to take this picture and even to publish it (since the privacy of this person is not being breached)… and much better than turning a blind eye.

  • mister  khan
    mister khanalmost 7 years ago


    i step over bodies everyday in moscow round the back of moscow’s kurskaya train station, kting in the gutters. not knowing if they’re alive or not, dead drunk, sleeping it off, or just dying. it’s odd how we’ve gone so far from nature to brable to repress such a fundemental instinct as to help our fellow man.

  • Not so sure there’s anything unnatural in it Mr K. Sad yes, but we seem to have a great natural capacity to not see what we don’t want to see. Emperors and clothes and all that.

    – Steve Axford

  • mister  khan
    mister khanalmost 7 years ago

    ok- so one is strollingon a summer’s day in a forest and you someone lying in obvious distress- one’s reaction is different to an analagous situation in a city- in cities we suffer from collective irresponsibility.

    its everybody’s problem, so its nobody’s problem.

  • I’m not sure that helping strangers has ever been a natural reaction. I remember some “Good Samaritan” story from the bible that implied that it wasn’t common 2000 years ago, and helping someone from a strange tribe whilst out on a Sunday stroll may not have been all that common at any time in our history. I’m not trying to defend it, I just think that “natural” isn’t always nice. I think racial discrimination is probably quite natural as well, as is cheating, lying, killing and lots of other un-nice things. I think we need to advance beyond many things that are natural in order to be able to live in an urban society which certainly isn’t natural.

    – Steve Axford

  • mister  khan
    mister khanalmost 7 years ago

    i guess at the end of the day its just what people choose to teach their kids.

  • That certainly helps but kids have a habit of rebelling against their parents views. Maybe the occasional photograph can help too, but it’s amazing the number of people who attack me for exploiting the man, or refuse to allow the photograph on their site. Some people not only don’t want to see this sort of thing, they will do everything they can to make sure it is not seen.

    – Steve Axford

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