Meet Justin Brosey, ‘The Homeless Photographer’

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So, recently I reached out to a person I connected with on Twitter – his name, as you may have guessed, is Justin Brosey. He’s the guy in the picture above. His story – I’ll admit, I read up on him prior to my reaching out to him – touched me, but I didn’t feel it was provided an adequate platform … That’s what this post is for.

The interview was difficult, considering arrangements on both ends at the time of writing this – so I settled for sending over some questions to Justin via email and allowed him to sculpt the article himself. I was no more than the middleman and an editor, cleaning up slight errors in readability. This is Justin’s story, and I wanted it to come from Justin himself. I hope it touches you as much as it touched me.

People going out and actively seeking to make their passions their life work deserve respect, attention and support. Justin is doing exactly that, and that is why I wanted to make sure he was seen by more people. I’ve got immense respect for this guy, and I believe what he’s doing is absolutely beautiful. I can only hope that more people will see what I’ve seen in him, and be as inspired as I was by it. Lot of love for you, Justin, and all of you readers!

Justin’s contact details:

Website: www.SymbiosisPhotography.com

Twitter: @SymbioPhoto

Facebook: www.facebook.com/symbiosis.justin

Crowdfunding campaign: www.Gofundme.com/homelessphotographer


Question: Hey Justin, can you introduce yourself for the readers?

Firstly I want to sincerely thank anyone reading this, thank you!

I’m Justin Brosey, a 26 year old digital artist/designer and a photographer. Though the majority of my life has been spent on jobs like painting, tree cutting, pest control, cement labor (the list goes on), I’ve always been an artist inside. I just didn’t know how to let it out. Right now I’m homeless – along with my wife and 8 year old daughter – times have been rough lately, but I have been seeing the positives hidden behind each negative happening.


Question: What is it that made you choose photography/digital imagery?

To put it plainly, it feels more like it chose me, or rather something, possibly my own subconscious did… Years ago I started messing with photoshop just to help my online friends make signatures, avatars and banners for their forum accounts.

Soon after making my first few original pieces I was swarmed by the entire forum community to make stuff for them. To me, it didn’t feel like I was making anything spectacular, but others seemed to think I was.

I became so engulfed by people that I was overwhelmed and found myself losing all motivation to continue — once the freedom to make art of my own will & on my own time turned into a job-like-responsibility, I lost my desire to create, or rather I lost my motivation.

It took me some time to regain my connection with the inner-creativity … but once I did, I couldn’t stop. Later on, I discovered photography; which has been my most passionate endeavour, completely fueled by an indescribable love for nature, especially the little overlooked things. I  bought my first camera to document and identify each species of fungi I was encountering while I was studying mycology, it was a Fujifilm s3200, that is how it started.


Question: You’ve mentioned you’re a photographer/artist – can you expand a little upon what it is you do? (What’s the process that goes into your work?)

For photography, and even to some extent my digital work, my main source of inspiration and material is hiking. I spend as much time as I can in the trees, it’s just a place I’ve always been able to collect myself and breathe, to let go and generate ideas. Most of my photography is of nature, usually little things like mushrooms, insects, animals, plants.

I shoot with a Canon60D and normally a 100mm Macro lens (but mine is broken now) + diffused flash. I spend a lot of time laying on the ground with my camera. When I find a good subject or scene, I lay low to get the best possible perspective and to survey the little things I was not seeing while standing up. I use a lot of my own photos as stock-art to create digital work & manipulations.

My main digital art program is actually GIMP, not Photoshop (though I use both).

For optimizing and editing photos I use Adobe Lightroom.


Question: So, what services is it that you offer as an artist?

All of my services are listed on my website (www.SymbiosisPhotography.com). Other than the typical photography services & prints, I also offer photo restorations, digital downloads, desktop backgrounds(wallpapers), and my most popular service has been “Spirit Selfie” — which is a simple service wherein you e-mail a selfie, or a photo of a friend, family member, or pet, and I digitally augment the photo to look cosmic, psychedelic, spiritual, etc. then I send it back to you.

Check it out here: www.symbiosisphotography.com/#!spiritselfie/crv8


Question: I’ve seen from twitter, you dubbed yourself the homeless photographer, would you mind telling us how you ended up in said situation?

Short version; a series of negative events occured, at the worst possible time they could have, and we have no family that could help with funds or shelter — which equals homelessness.

Though, the story goes deeper, you can read the long version here: www.Gofundme.com/homelessphotographer.

Something I didn’t add to the Gofundme page is a few months before becoming homeless I had a serious breakdown (or awakening). One day after work, I recognized that I work 12 hours a day, and I have no life.

More literally, I suddenly understood ‘normal’ is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you financed, in order to get to the job that you don’t like, just to have a house you leave vacant all day so that you can afford to live in it.

I worked 9 years, and it got me here. I paid all my bills, I kept up everything, I was the best employee, I worked the hardest, I went out of my way to do a great job, and it got me right here. I suddenly understood that I was already dead, that most people are already dead, and my tears ran dry.

The next day I went to work, and it hit me even harder. When I got back home that night I was ready to kill myself, I knew that if I quit my job, or even took some time off, everything would fall apart. My wife stopped me from suicide, and it was at that point I decided that I follow my dream, or nothing.

There are no other options now. “A life worth living” is my goal. Soon after I decided to buy a camper and start living on the road, and this is also when everything (that was left) fell apart. There is a certain beauty in the dissonance though, an abstract order among the chaos, a reason that this all went as it has.

I think I’m where I should be, even though its hard. 


Question: If you don’t mind, can you tell us some more about your current living conditions?

We have a small camper parked in a forest, this is where we sleep. We have no electricity, no running water, and no way to cook food other than a camp fire. For most things we walk to our public library and to a nearby river for swimming.

We spend most of our time at the Library, my 8 year old daughter reads over 100 books per month and I use the free Wi-fi to get online and do my digital work and post my photography. The hardest thing right now is sleeping with the heat, humidity and the mosquitos. We’re really looking forward to winter.

We get by though. There are a few positives as well, for one, we spend a lot of time together. I actually get to be with my daughter unlike when I worked full-time.


Question: How do you make working fit in with this lifestyle right now?

I’ve been looking for work but have been coming up empty, our only income since we’ve been homeless (3’ish months) has come from selling a photo here and there, rare donations on my site, and from my digital services like Spirit Selfie.

I’m willing to work other jobs but there has been nothing in the last few months, so I’ve been focusing heavily on my website and just doing what I love until a better opportunity presents itself. It’s possible to be happy and homeless, you just have to be a little creative and open-minded.


Question: Do you feel that your family is currently supportive of this pursual?

Yes. We all have problems with it at times, but I think anyone would. My wife has been helping me keep it all together and my daughter motivates me every day.  We even enjoy this at times, we know someday our situation will improve.


Obviously you’re chasing a passion here, do you have any advice to other people wanting to chase their passion?

If you’re not building towards living your dream, then someone is going to, or already has, hired you to help build theirs. Is that clear enough? If you had 5 minutes to live, would your final thoughts be of regret? Would you tell yourself “I lived an incredible life, what an adventure!”?

Remember that you and I are something the whole Universe is doing, just like a wave is something the whole ocean is doing. If you want something, just start making the effort towards it, just decide that you will go for it, the Universe will move mountains to see you succeed, you are the Universe afterall.

Lastly, and most importantly, please remember this:

Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.

Embrace the changes, even the “bad” ones. To paraphrase Darwin: “The most important characteristic for the survival of a species is not strength, or intelligence, but adaptability to change.”


Question: How could those reading this right now help support you, aside from sharing this article?

Checking out and then sharing my site: www.SymbiosisPhotography.com

You can donate if you want, donate button on top-left corner of site.

Follow me on Twitter: @SymbioPhoto

Friend me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/symbiosis.justin

Share my crowdfunding campaign: www.Gofundme.com/homelessphotographer


Question: Do you have anything else you want to say?

Just that all the answers you’re seeking are inside of you, not outside of you.

I want to place emphasis on living in the present moment. As Lao Tzu said:

“If you’re depressed you’re living in the past,

if you’re anxious, you’re living in the future,

if you’re at peace, you’re living in the present.”

If you’re caught in the trap of thinking that something has to happen, something has to change, or something has to be accomplished for you to be happy, please realize this is a perpetual circle of suffering that many spend their entire life spinning around in.

Notice when you reach a goal, or get a thing, you just want another goal, or another thing. Happiness doesn’t need a reason, it just needs your permission. To say that happiness is in the future, is to imply that it isn’t here right now. To put yourself on a ‘path’ to happiness or a ‘path’ to enlightenment is to imply that it isn’t here right now.

It is though, it always was.

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  • http://www.lemonparty.org/ IJR

    Maybe a picture from the photographer the article is about?

    • JMA

      His website is listed…he has many, check it out.