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Joy

A group gave 105 homeless people disposable cameras. These are the photos they took.

See life through someone else's eyes 👀

homeless, disposable cameras, photos
Photo by Jackie Cook/MyLondon Photography Contest.

Many locks of bright, pink hair peek around the corner of the stairwell.

This article originally appeared on 08.17.16


A group of 105 homeless people gathered at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Each of them was given a disposable camera and told to take pictures that represent "my London."

The photos were entered in an annual contest run by London-based nonprofit Cafe Art, which gives homeless artists the chance to have their work displayed around the city and, for some of the photographers who participate in the yearly challenge, in a print calendar.


"Some people have had experience, and others have never picked up a camera before," said Paul Ryan, co-director of Cafe Art.

The program, Ryan explained, includes mentorship and training from professional volunteers at the Royal Photographic Society, including winners of the contest from previous years, many of whom are ultimately inducted into the society.

contest, London, social circles, job market

A "Drivers Wanted" sign in the window from the MyLondon Photography Contest.

Photo by Richard Fletcher/MyLondon Photography Contest. All photos used with permission.

The goal of the challenge is to help participants gain the confidence to get back on the job market, search for housing, re-engage with their social circles, or even activate dormant skills.

"I really enjoyed it. And I started to get involved in my art again, which I'd left for years," a 2015 participant said in a video for the organization's Kickstarter campaign.

These are 11 of the top vote-getters from this year's contest:

1. Ella Sullivan — "Heart Bike Rack"

bike rack, photography, hearts, charity

A heart shaped bike rack.

Photo by Ella Sullivan/MyLondon Photography Contest

2. Alana Del Valle — "London Bus with Sculpture"

double-decker-bus, sculpture, contest

A red-double-decker-bus behind a mirrored sculpture.

Photo by Alana Del Valle/MyLondon Photography Contest

3. Beatrice — "Out of the Blue"

shadows, hands, artist, art

A hand shadow reaches up the wall toward a water container.

Photo by Beatrice/MyLondon Photography Contest

4. Laz Ozerden — "What Now?"

charity, donations, pan handling

Open hands accepting donations.

Photo by Laz Ozerden/MyLondon Photography Contest

5. Leo Shaul — "The Coffee Roaster"

coffee, roasters, model

A long coat hugs “The Coffee Roaster."

Photo by Leo Shaul/MyLondon Photography Contest

6. Christopher McTavish — "St. Paul's in Reflection"

St. Paul\u2019s, historic buildings, government

St. Paul’s cast a reflection against a blue shoe in a puddle.

Photo by Christopher McTavish/MyLondon Photography Contest

7. Hugh Gary — "London Calling"

phone booth, red kiosk, iconic

London calling.

Photo by Hugh Gary/MyLondon Photography Contest

8. Keith Norris — "Watching Mannequin"

mannequin, window display, reflections

Rolling your eyes at a mannequin.

Photo by Keith Norris/MyLondon Photography Contest

9. Siliana — "After the Rain"

tourism, tour boats, bridges, rain

A boat cruises under the bridge after a rainy day.

Photo by Siliana/MyLondon Photography Contest

10. Saffron Saidi — "Graffiti Area"

street art, graffiti, Dalmatians

Life reflecting art.

Photo by Saffron Saidi/MyLondon Photography Contest

11. Jackie Cook — "Underground Exit"

transportation, walking, stairwell, hide-n-seek

Who’s that in the stairwell?

Photo by Jackie Cook/MyLondon Photography Contest

Ryan, who has been developing the program for seven years, said that while there's no one-size-fits-all solution for individuals who are homeless, for some who are too used to being "knocked back," the experience of seeing their work on display or in print — and of success — can be invaluable.

"Everyone is helped in a different way, to get up to the next step in whatever way they need to."

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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