You know the saying not to judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes? Well, this week’s Urban Beardsman definitely walks the walk. In-between Pachi Tamer’s “normal-life” as a marketing director and single father, he travels the world living on the streets while capturing heart-stirring portraits of the homeless. Not to mention, he’s re-purposed a popular phone app as a medium for making the world a better place—one dollar at a time.
Although he describes himself as “just a regular guy with an iPhone,” Tamer worked extremely hard to get to where he’s at today. Born in Argentina, he attended a school specializing in marketing near Buenos Aries. Through the course of moving to London for work, and learning English on his own through odd-and-end jobs, he was deported back to Argentina due to an expired visa. Tamer however continued to push forward pursuing his career until landing a creative role at an agency New York.
While in NY, Tamer met his former wife, and a year later the couple found themselves relocating to Austin. Tamer was recruited by another top agency for a broader opportunity that also promised a position for his wife. The day after departing NY, they discovered they were going to have a baby.
During their acclimation to the many changes happening at once, things took a traumatic change of course. Tamer shares, “my parents were in a severe car accident that put my father in a coma for ten months before he passed away—my mother was also bed-ridden with broken bones for about six months. During this time, my daughter was only about year and a half; and my wife and I had a dispute that resulted in a divorce—it was a very difficult time for me.”
Tamer moved in with a friend, and without intentionally planning it, started a hobby that aided his grieving process. Under his newly created Instagram account known as Cachafaz, he ventured out in-between work breaks capturing photos of people on the street that had fallen on hard times. He recalls, “one day I came across a homeless guy and offered him a dollar to take his picture; in talking with him and learning his story—it suddenly made my problems feel so much smaller in comparison. Spending time talking with the homeless people I’ve photographed helped me through a tough time in my life—it was like therapy—and in return, I try to help them.”
As his Instagram gallery began to grow, so did Tamer’s fan base. Where some simply enjoy the app for self-gratification, Tamer had an idea to engage his +24K followers for greater good, recalling, “I met a man that told me after photographing him he had always dreamt of going to Oktoberfest. I had the realization if every follower on my Instagram donated just one dollar, I could take this guy to Germany! I set up a PayPal account for people to donate, and it was a success! That’s how my One Dollar Dreams concept all began. Now we have several other guys on the site that I’m trying to help make their dreams come to life. I want to eventually to turn this into an official non-profit organization, but its’ going to take some time.”
Since launching One Dollar Dreams, Tamer has fearlessly embarked on road trips all over the US photographing people throughout the states.” I went everywhere from Vegas, and Detroit, to New Orleans and Miami. I used up all my money—but people on the streets helped with donations, and shelters. People I don’t even know from my Instagram offered to let me stay with them!”
Tamer is so dedicated to making a change in how others view homelessness, he’ll do whatever it takes; including taking in a stranger from the street to sleep in his van for a month, to surviving on the McDonalds $1 menu for weeks at a time, (where he gets free Wi-Fi and can charge his phone). Although loved ones have expressed their concerns for his safety on occasion, he states, “I’ve never felt unsafe or in danger—just really cold. The last road trip I took was in December, so that experience really taught me to appreciate the little things in life.”
Although Tamer mentions he’s never felt unsafe on the street, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t run into some jolting predicaments, revealing, “I was in Brazil alone one night at the beach smoking a cigarette, and I encountered a guy who tried to rob me for my iPhone. He made me sit down, pulled out a gun, and told me he’d kill me if I didn’t hand it over. So I said, (without thinking), ‘really? You’re going to kill me for a fucking phone?’ The man stopped and began to tell me how miserable he was and all the problems he recently underwent. I just hugged him, and he started crying. I took him to an ATM and gave him $50. He couldn’t believe I did that and was so touched. We went from this totally scary moment, to forming a connection—it was pretty incredible.”
Tamer might count dodging a bullet as a humbling moment, but when it comes to most rewarding; he notes the recent invite he received to do a Ted Talk conference, where he actually stripped down barebones at the end of his speech. “I’m really proud of my Ted Talk show. I came out dressed like a homeless man and spoke about prejudices people have against the homeless. It was very powerful, and all from the heart.”
It wasn’t until Tamer did his Ted Talk presentation that he really put thought into growing his beard out longer, admitting, “I’ve always had a short beard for the most part, but after the presentation, I kept growing it out. Since then, it’s become part of my brand if you will—it’s my icon.”
As the beard length has become a permanent facial-fixture, Tamer shares his regimen: “it can get kind of messy as I grow it out, but I have the Beardbrand Beardsman Kit (with the scissors) and I love it—though I’ve also learned to appreciate a good trim at the barbershop occasionally.”
With Tamer’s tremendous efforts spent in the streets for days and weeks at a time, you can’t blame him for indulging in a barbershop visit on occasion—and it should be no surprise he takes nothing else for granted. He spends all of his extra time with his five-year old daughter Elena, where they can often be found making music videos on her own creative site: Elenatamer.com in an effort to raise additional charity funds. “The feeling of appreciation I have for life now—I feel blessed to even be able to breathe. And when you think like that, you’re not worried about what you don’t have. That’s been my biggest eye-opener—aside from learning not to judge people by their conditions—any of us could end up homeless.”
With all he’s endured to shatter stereotypes on how people perceive the homeless, Tamer stands out as a true inspiration and visionary. He reminds us to dig deeper and take a closer look at things, and ends our chat with, “that’s exactly what I intend to do with my pictures—open people’s eyes.”