Our Lens on Life: Look Ahead

A few months ago I was asked by an organisation called Look Ahead (via The Royal Photographic Society) to facilitate a series of workshops as part of a photography project called Our Lens on Life.  Look Ahead is an organisation ​​that supports people experiencing homelessness in London and the South East, who may have mental health, substance misuse or physical health needs. Due to various Covid restrictions and geography, the photography workshops were delivered via Zoom. The participants were each given single-use film cameras to document their lives from their own unique perspectives. We covered some basics such as composition, point of view and an appreciation of light but also touched on how photography can be used to tell stories or be a tool for self-expression. We also looked at the work of some great photographers such as Duane Michals, Rinko Kawauchi, Nan Goldin and Saul Leiter amongst others. 

We even made an exhibition of the work which was covered by KMTV. Here’s a clip:


This image (see above) was taken by Marnie who took some time out to talk a little about her image and the experience. “I decided to take part in the photography workshop because it was something different and at the time I had nothing to lose,” explains Marnie, who continues. “I have had experience with art. I’ve always been artistic with painting, drawing or sculpting but I didn’t realise photography was seen as an art.”

Marnie took this shot soon after receiving her camera. She was experimenting with composition. “That day I was out with my siblings,” says Marnie who adds “It had been the first time in 14 years or so we had all seen each other together at once. I just saw a shop, it looked a bit odd compared to the rest and so I captured it before we drove off from the temporary lights. 

“I honestly loved the single-use film camera,” continues Marnie. “ It was very nostalgic to use. I remember as a child we would have a few of these and we’d aimlessly take pictures of anything. I have learned more than I thought I would. That there really is more to a picture than the picture itself. Some pictures have meaning and reflect what the photographer is feeling or going through. It has helped me look for the nicer things in life even when everything around you is falling apart. And looking through what I have captured over the sessions does show my growth and how I have managed to deal with my mental health”. 

The workshops were facilitated by Look Ahead support worker Bobby Brown who says “During my time supporting the residents with the photographic project it has been humbling to see a day in their lives through the lens of a camera. The simple act of taking a picture has pulled together an amazing group of people who normally find it difficult to try new things”. 

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