Street Photographer Jesse Don Aviles’ Ode to the Mission District

Mission District
Jesse Don Aviles

Self-trained San Francisco photographer Jesse Don Aviles took these haunting photos of the Mission District. Captions gathered by @hitsauce.

"I snapped this gentleman in his Sunday suit, all white with silky beige squares. He was handing out flyers for church on 22nd and Mission. Behind him, you can see where the old Mission Market was before it burned two years earlier in 2015."
"I took this one on 4th and Market, on a weekday afternoon. Hope that was her real hair, because it looks amazing."
"I worked for three years doing outreach to the street population. Songbox Dharma showed up on Market and 5th, next to the Flood Building, where I worked on the 3rd floor. He was there on a Saturday and he looked interesting to me so I took the shot and kept it moving. The funny thing about it was he never appeared again.That would happen. A lot of people came through. I walked the streets in my uniform telling people to get up, building rapport with businesses, telling tourists where to go if they needed a bus stop. I didn’t have my camera until the very end of the job. If there was a rewind button I’d have had hella photos. I think every photographer wishes he woulda started earlier."
"When I took that photo I was at work and I came across the scene, she was screaming and irate. I pulled out my camera and took a shot. People feel embarrassed for the police having to deal with those situations. They don’t know how to go about it. They’d hold her down and tranquilize her. Worse comes to worse they have to put a nylon bag over her head. You could see through it but it’s a bag."
"I was dropping off a roll or two of film, on 8th and Brannan, me catching the 19. I was passing the bus stop, and she’s got her hand on her cuca. Like yo, I was like, wait, what? Her hand on her thing. No one is tripping? Took out my Stylus Epic. I centered myself, positioned myself and took the shot. I was like, hell yeah. Shot it on expired film, thinking how is this going to come out? Sure enough, when I saw it, I was like, looks fucking crazy."
"It was a rainy day, I’d just picked up film and I took two photos and that’s the one I liked best. There was a lady driving a truck in traffic. It was like a U-haul truck and she was just looking at me taking the photo and started laughing. I was like, 'Look at him! He’s got an umbrella hanging off his back.'"
"I took this on the weekend on Sansome during Muni heritage week, in September. We were riding Muni. Me, dudes from the collective—Jake Ricker, Abdullah Shakur—we were just taking photos around the city. Got some good shots."
The photographer on the Mission: "I feel blessed and honored to have been born and raised here. Childhood memories like kids playing football in the middle of the street, at 14th and South Van Ness. To have witnessed it when the minority was the majority. Being a native and a local. Nowadays it’s a rare thing."

To Read More INTELIGENCIA stories like this one, go here.