A picture paints a thousand words, and for a group of people living on the street, photographs have given others perspective of what everyday life is like for them.
Blind Eye, a drop-in centre in South Brisbane, invited homeless people to take disposable cameras for a week and shoot photos of where they sleep, what they see and how they feel.
The centre provides meals, washing and shower facilities as well as giving people on the street a place to relax and talk to people if they have any issues.
Organiser Peter McMahon said the project was a way for homeless people to show what they come across each day.
“The instructions we gave them was to shoot their life,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Craig Zonca and Rebecca Levingston.
“We started by running half-an-hour training sessions when we handed them the cameras and told them we wanted them to tell their own story, their way.”
Mr McMahon was inspired by a similar project he had seen in the United Kingdom.
After using the cameras for seven days, participants returned them so the images could be processed and printed.
“We received some fabulous photos and it was hard to pull them down to 20 for the exhibition we’ve put together,” Mr McMahon said.
“We received portraits, scenes of places where people sleep or live during the day and some night shots too.
“Collectively, they tell quite a powerful story about life on the streets.”
‘Country club for poor people’
Chris was one of the participants who took up the project and said it explained what life was like for people in his situation.
“I took more arty photos. There’s so much street art in Brisbane and I wanted to do that — I wanted to find beauty in each day.”
Chris often slept under Kurilpa Bridge near Brisbane’s South Bank, and said although he had lived on the streets for more than five years, he felt safe as a homeless person in Brisbane.
“We’re lucky to have Blind Eye, Orange Sky [laundry service] and QUT gym allows us to shower if we have a towel,” he said.
“I refer to it [the Blind Eye centre] as a country club for poor people.
“This project helps us forget about the realities of sleeping on the street.”
The photographs have been put together as part of an exhibition titled Life On The Streets, which is on display at the drop-in centre.
“The response has been really positive,” Mr McMahon said.
“There are hundreds of homeless people in the city and we see up to 40 people a day and many are on the streets.
“It’s their story told by them.”