Thursday, 10 March 2016

You take a picture of me

Our last session for The Homeless Library at The Booth Centre. We've worked on the project for over a year, in this place, with these people. How to finish?

We decided to invite the photographer Paul Jones to take portraits of participants, under their direction. These would be author photos for this project that has included many forms of writing and authorship. Alongside this, we invited people to write a little about what a camera might not see, what things would be missing from a 2d black and white photograph of them.

Paul has the remarkable gift of quietly putting people at their ease, through body language as much as what's said. He is careful, considerate and skilled. The photos that result are warmhearted. These aren't stiff formal portraits, they're relaxed, smiling people who have authority over their image. The eyes are filled with life.

Paul busied with individuals the group, while we worked on the written pieces and on some monoprints - another form of portraiture.

Once the session was over, we looked through the viewfinder at images stored on the camera memory. Suddenly I realised that tears were running down my face. I saw this little group of familiar faces anew. Such strength - and such vulnerability. I am proud beyond words to helped with the telling of their stories.

Dani, writing on his 2d self: "What you can't see in me is my heart, my loneliness. So my heart is empty. My loneliness won't leave me alone. I dream of the past but not of the future. You take a picture of me, but I see a wall."

The Homeless Library project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund