You can read more about my $2 Portrait Project here.


Earlier this evening on my way home from work I ran into Penny. Penny was panhandling with her dog Tramp down on Market Street between the Embarcadero and the Embarcadero BART station. I stopped to ask about Penny's dog Tramp. She told me that he was 17 years old and that she'd had him since he was 3 months old. She said that he had a little arthritis but other than that that he was doing ok.


Penny asked for money and I asked her if she wanted to do a $2 Portrait. She said she did and took a few photographs of her. I asked Penny where she lived and she said she was homeless. She said she mostly hangs out around San Francisco. While I was talking to her someone came by and offered a dog biscuit to Tramp. She told me that Tramp was half Rottweiler and half Black Labrador.


I told her that it was nice that she'd had a friend for so many years and told her about my dogs Buddy and Toby who both were black labs who died last year and the year before.


We talked a bit more and then I gave Penny her $2 which she thanked me for and headed down into the BART station on my way home.

  • Bobby Jacobson 5y

    great portrait Thomas. Shes got a great expression, although I would have liked to see her dog, but the backround is still quite interseting. Seeing homeless people always turns my world view around a bit, but Im really shoked when I see homeless women, its terrible. anyways nice work and thanks for sharing.
  • Thomas Sittler 5y

    A good Portrait, and great story! I love her expression, and the sign she holds is really quite ironic and original.
    Do you have any pictures that show us the dog?
  • Angelo Speach 5y

    I'm sure even spending time with her made her day, but a few bucks also goes a long way...
    Or does it? I think even a small kids combo meal in San fran cost 5 bucks.
    Great Shot Thomas.
  • Chris Thibaut 5y

    Fantastic portrait - and a sad and wonderful story!
  • ParkerRiverKid 4y

    This portrait jumped right off the page. I just had to stop and read your story. Your photo is a sad documentary of the incredibly tough situation some people have today.

    I saw a young couple standing on the exit ramp from the highway, near here the other day, with what looked like rather upscale backpacks and hiking equipment, holding a sign that said, "We are really hungry. Help?" It would have made a striking photo too, because in the background was a fast food strip.

    I didn't know anything about this $2 Project until today. In a way, it reminds me of the WPA documentary photos from the 30's and 40's that recorded images of people struggling during the Great Depression. Thank you for taking it on and sharing your images.
  • Charlie & Melody Wambeke 3y

    I met Penny and her dog Tramp on July 3, 2011 and have posted her photo on Flickr. Mine is a $5 project. Penny was personable and in much better attire in Sunday noontime sun. She said she had been living in California for 11 years and our State had treated her well. She did not appear to be homeless anymore.
  • Todd Tyrtle 2y

    Thank you for posting this photo and sharing it under a Creative Commons license. We used it as an illustration on our site, 500 Kindnesses to go with a pledge we received. This project is a charity bike ride where instead of asking for money, we ask our sponsors to pledge acts of kindness for others in the hopes of spreading kindness throughout the world . Last year we rode from Toronto to New York City on a tandem bicycle. Next year we will leave from Mobile, Alabama on another tandem bike and ride home to Toronto along the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. More about the project is here, and the entry is posted here.
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Taken on September 22, 2010
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