Research into homeless photography

When you think of the homeless, what type of pictures comes into your mind straight away? Is it that typical shot of someone sitting down on the ground, blanket wrapped around them, black and white with lots of gloom?

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That to me is the stereotypical shot most people tend to take of the homeless. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about them that doesn’t sit right. To me, these types of pictures aren’t a fair representation of these people. Because at the end of the day, they are human like anyone else. These shots to me seem to dehumanize them to the point where they become part of the background.

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Jan Banning goes against the stereotypical shot by taking subjects from the street and placing them into a mobile studio (Rosenberg) in which he wanted to show to “who they are rather than what they are labelled.” By these pictures, he was able to create a much more intimate relationship with the subject, one which doesn’t tries to get rid of the distance that is already in place by society.

This is the type of photography that is a much more fairer representation. It doesn’t judge, it doesn’t put a false impression at all. It just lets us see the person for who they are.

A lot of the images you may find on Google are based on a social view on how they look. Suzanne Carpendale describes homeless people as “the forgotten, invisible people of our society” (Barry) and that “a lot of people in our society haven’t moved past the stereotypical homeless person.” So I think there has to be a change in how the images are made of the homeless in order to highlight this social issue.

Photography is a methodology of sharing moments with others, and for the homeless it serves as a means of reconnecting homeless people with the wider community (Miller). With photography, we have the means of making a difference in what type of media we see. There are social perceptions out there in place that need to be re-addressed in order to break the stereotypical image that exists today.

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Josh King is a photographer in Leamington Spa who recently had an exhibition based on the homeless. He took his experience to the next level with them by living rough (BBC News) so that he could put himself into their shoes; this helped him when it came to taking his images as he had a personal connection with each person.
However, I felt that with the pictures he made, some of them were too stereotypical to me. Yes each image has been taken nicely and has made nice portraits. But it is the ones that show the “typical” lifestyle that reinforce this stereotypical image.

There are challenges to this image of the homeless, so I am going to be looking at work and how various photographers challenge it.

Barry, See. ‘The New Homeless: ‘Her Life Just Turned Bad, By One Simple Thing’’. N.p., 2014. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

BBC News,. ‘In Pictures: Living On The Street’. N.p., 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.,. ‘Chap At The Door/Homelessness’. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

Miller, Cynthia. ‘Images From The Streets: Art For Social Change From The Homelessness Photography Project’. Social Justice 33.2 (2006): 123-124. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

Phoblachtáigh do Aontiú / Republican Network for Unity,. ‘Food Or Fascism For The Homeless? – Arrests Unhelpful And Unnecessary’. N.p., 2014. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

 Rosenberg, David. ‘Forget Stereotypes. This Is What Homelessness Really Looks Like.’. Slate Magazine. N.p., 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.


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