From homeless to fashion photographer


Many of us haven’t heard of Mark Reay, this is the unusual story of somebody who lived on the streets for 6 years.




Story: Like many young people Mark graduated and then he backpacked around Europe. But he found himself a job as a model in Brussels in 1984. He started to work for Versace, Moschino, Missoni and Vogue- big names in the fashion world.


He went back to New York as his father was dying and he wanted to find some jobs over there to save money and rent a room. Taking any job he even worked as an actor in Sex and the City.


When his father died, he went back on his footsteps around Europe. Since he was familiar with the fashion world, he started to take pictures backstage at fashion shows. It was then that he considered making a career out of being a photographer.


Life is not always easy. He couldn’t support himself by just being a model, and he was using all of his savings- even a job as a waiter or some photo submissions couldn’t help him with his finance. With some photography projects on his mind, he was drawn to France, but soon he realized that the career he had chosen was tougher that he had thought.




He ended up on the streets of St. Tropez with his laptop and his camera in a garbage bag. He would wake up at 6am, go to the park and find restaurants where he could clean up in outdoor sinks. He would sit in a cafe afterwards. Because of his certain look, nobody would ask him questions. For him, even if sleeping was rough, it was a pretty good time. He was inspired by George Orwell and Henry Miller’s books. Sometimes, he would find a fancy bar and just sneak in, drinking a leftover glass over the counter, and be among millionaires.


As the summer came to the end, Mark got tired of his new life.




Luck came by him. He was sending some fashion photos to a few magazines, and one in particular replied to him. Dazed and Confused. When he was waiting for the money, he was resting his head at a friend’s rooftop, the same where he stayed for six years.


Money came in. Mark renewed his gym contract and he could leave his belongings there and shower as well.


In those six years, he managed to do three seasons of fashion week for Dazed, he shot for Diane Von Fustenberg, Rebecca Taylor and Lacoste.




He finally got off the roof. It was once in a lifetime experience, but Mark was happy travelling around like nobody was watching him. He chose improbable careers – modelling, acting, photography – careers which most of people only dream of and don’t have the courage to try, and he knew that nothing was certain. Like he said: “I’ve been alone, but I never been lonely”


(Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? Well, it is now a movie and you can check out the video here:


Words: Vanessa Venturi



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