In an innovative project backed by the RPS, people who had been affected by homelessness are putting their experiences in the frame.
Our Lens on Life was staged by Look Ahead, a charitable housing association that runs homelessness services in west Kent on behalf of Kent County Council, in partnership with the RPS.
Donna Pearson, Look Ahead’s Head of Operations in Kent said:
“It has been amazing to work with The Royal Photographic Society for Our Lens on Life. People living in our homelessness services really benefited from the expert photography tuition and engagement in the sessions was high. The end result was a powerful exhibition of photography that received widespread media coverage."
Benedict Brain ARPS led the workshops, which were delivered online via Zoom during summer 2021.
“We looked at some of the basics of image-making within the limitations of single-use cameras and had conversations around composition, light and timing,” Brain says.
“We also explored ideas around narrative and storytelling using photographs, and discovered ways in which photography can be used as a form of expression to comment on the world. The participants were really engaged with this. Some of the work they produced carried real resonance and in context was frankly exceptional.”
Image above: 'Sunrise outside Tonbridge Golf Centre’ by Sean
Together they explored the work of well-known photographers such as Richard Billingham, Nan Goldin HonFRPS, Saul Leiter, Paul Nash, Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, Duane Michals and Rinko Kawauchi, before heading out with their £20 single-use cameras to document their own lives.
For one participant, Chris, this opportunity has come at a turning point.
“When I was sleeping rough I lived in fear of getting hurt,” he says, “but now I feel safe and able to move on and do other things, which is why I loved taking part in the photography project. “I like taking photographs because it makes you look at things in a different way and a photo is a moment in time that you can’t get back.”
Image above: 'Pyramids', by Chris
The Our Lens on Life images were shown at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells.
Many thanks to Photographique in Bristol for supporting the project through processing and printing participant images.
Look Ahead is planning to repeat the exhibition next year due to its success.