In July, 100 people affected by homelessness were handed Fujifilm single-use cameras and tasked with documenting what London means to them for a competition.
The best images, plucked from more than 2,500 entries, are due to be published in the Café Art 2016 My London calendar.
Café Art – an organisation that connects homeless people with the wider community through art – has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund printing costs.
Here are some of the best images from the calendar competition, along with the stories of the photographers behind them.
[Photo credit: XO]
‘As I was looking through the camera lens, wondering which angle to take the photo from, this guy walked past with his umbrella – it was raining lightly – and I seized the opportunity to snap it,’ said XO, who photographed these listed telephone boxes near Lincoln’s Inn.
XO, who attends the Crisis Skylight building in Whitechapel, added: ‘I Googled the location and discovered they’re Grade II listed and that the shorter ones are unique to London, which I thought was cool and also in keeping with the My London theme.
‘Although very rarely used these days, I love the fact they’re still around. They’re synonymous with our capital and this city wouldn’t be the same without them, so I’m happy they’re protected.
‘I’ve had a passion for and interest in photography since my teens, but consider myself a novice and would like to go on a course to learn the ropes’.
[Photo credit: Ceci]
‘It was a really hot day. It was the day I collected the camera, so I just walked around until I stopped somewhere near Tower Bridge and saw people on the grass. It looked so relaxing, so I just captured the moment’, said Ceci, a Chinese woman from Hong Kong who did not want to reveal her real name.
Ceci found herself alone at a railway station all night one December when she met a homeless man who suggested she join him at Crisis for Christmas.
She only uses the Crisis art groups, as it helps her get away from the chaos in her large Bethnal Green squat that she finds ‘chaotic,’ with ‘people yelling, shouting, verbal violence and physical violence’.
[Photo credit: Ellen Rostant]
Ellen Rostant saw a boot on the road and I thought it would make a nice picture because, ‘How can someone lose a boot? Somebody’s out there and they’ve got one boot left.’
Ellen’s family has been in temporary housing for nearly three years. Ellen, 16, who is set to study photography at Leyton Sixth Form College, added: ‘I want to do art and photography and geography at college. Hopefully, I will be able to go into something like landscape photography, or maybe portraits or art stuff. I don’t have a camera – I use my phone.’
Photographer Zilvinas Vaiteikunas decided to take this shot while exploring streets near Mayfair.
Originally from Lithuania, he lives in a Camden Town squat. A few years ago Zin decided to ‘sort out’ his life and visited several organisations that could help. He worked on a project called the Book of Life with the Kids Company, which covered the struggles in his life, including a troubled childhood, and addictions. In the future he wants to keep being creative, no matter how hard conditions get, to remain happy and fulfilled. ‘Do not surrender! Keep walking,’ he says. ‘Be confident…
‘The challenge I had to overcome was to discover a direction in my life that would keep me happy and fullfil me as a human being. And so far I have discovered that it is creativity.
‘Organisations like Café Art and Kids Company helped me to use this creativity of mine in an established way, and opened the possibility of sustaining my self, materially, with the work I am doing. ’
[Photo credit: Goska Calik]
Goska Calik took this photo of the base of the Isis sculpture in Hyde Park – which represents the Egyptian goddess of motherhood – and feels her own shadow symbolises her homelessness.
Arriving in London four years ago, Goska became homeless when she lost her job due to illness. After sofa-surfing for several months she was finally directed to Crisis, where she was helped to find a place to live.
Goska was taught photography by her father in Poland and is now studying counselling and working part-time as a support worker for people with mental health problems. She goes to Cardboard Citizens, a homelessness support organisation where she did a dance workshop and photography.
[Photo credit: Ray of Light]
This dog, pictured in front of at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, is owned by a friend of the photographer, who is known as Ray of Light (ROL). ‘He likes to go around London checking out all the touristic places,’ said ROL, who has had a photo in every My London calendar since 2013.
Formerly a chef, Ray has been sleeping rough for several years, mostly sofa surfing. He is an active volunteer with many charities, including Café Art and has several paintings hanging in cafés around London.