MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities photographer hopes his pictures start a different kind of conversation about an often-hidden population.

Chris LaFontaine visited St. Paul’s bridges and river bluffs to see for himself how the homeless live.

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Chris LaFontaine (credit: CBS)

Chris LaFontaine (credit: CBS)

“Even though they’re in a dirt-sort-of floor, she would have a welcome mat out,” said LaFontaine, as he described one of his photos.

The walls of a Lowertown gallery are filled with faces LaFontaine now knows.

“He loves his country, and he doesn’t love what his country is doing,” he said about another photo.

It is what LaFontaine calls a personal and respectful look at the life of “The Invisible People.”

“We don’t see them or we don’t really want to look at them,” LaFontaine said.

He chronicled St. Paul’s chronic homeless population for eight months; people camping under bridges, in the woods and on the banks of the Mississippi in caves.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Todd Feske’s nonprofit personally delivers basic necessities to the homeless. He invited LaFontaine along with the hope his pictures help to change a stereotype.

“Often times, the image of homeless people is kind of a dark, gritty, black-and-white, down-and-out guy on the street,” LaFontaine said. “I don’t think that’s how they want to be known.”

Here there are smiles and stories of a population looking out for one another.

“What’s interesting about this community is that it is their community,” LaFontaine said.

They are an often-invisible community that LaFontaine says deserves some visibility.

“It’s just a way for me to use what I can offer and say, ‘Here, look at this. What do you think?'” he said.

“The Invisible People” will be on display the entire month of July at A-Z Gallery in Lowertown. It is free to see.

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Feske’s nonprofit, “Walking with a Purpose,” is raising money to start what is called a “Tiny Home Village,” where people can live and help provide for their own needs. Click here for more information.