Late last year I was the photographer for Brisbane City Council’s bi-annual Homeless Connect, which provides a much needed range of services to the homeless population of Brisbane. Included in the services are medical and legal services as well as covering the most basic of needs through accommodation referrals, clothing and food. Last November, I covered the event in a mostly candid and documentary style, but soon realised that combining it with some ideas from another event we organised last year, Help Portrait, would allow us to give much more to the guests on the day and in a more direct way.
This year, I teamed up with the amazing Lynda Evans and Toby Scott, to shoot, print, laminate and even burn images to disc. We hit the ground running and had no chance to break until it was all over, with people eventually starting to congregate around the booth, checking out their photos and waiting for their turn to have their portrait taken. We shot portraits for about 170 people and gave the equipment, kindly supplied to us by Epson, quite a workout! We met some amazing people and heard some moving stories of how people were going to use their photos, and who they were going to give them to. It seemed like everyone wanted to have their photo taken to share with another friend or loved one that wasn’t there. We heard about people wanting the photos to give to their mothers for Mothers Day, family overseas and a mate on the “inside”, some just wanted portraits of their children or with friends. There was a couple wanting pregnancy portraits and even some people who wanted to have “before and after” haircut shots! When I first thought about bringing a portrait space to Homeless connect I really wasn’t sure whether it would work or be something that was needed, but after seeing the joy that something as simple as getting a nice portrait taken can bring, it really re-enforces my belief in the power of “photography for good” and the impact it has on people.
Many thanks to Toby, Lynda, Epson Australia, Brisbane City Council, Volunteering Queensland, all volunteers and service providers for making this kind of event possible. I’ve shot a few “Help Portrait” inspired events since our first one last year but am hoping to make it a much more frequent and sustainable way to give portraits. If you know anyone keen to support, through printing supplies or in any other way possible, please let me know! For more information on Homeless Connect and how to get involved as a volunteer or service provider in the next event in November, please visit:
Here are some behind the scenes shots of our portrait space on the day: