How We See It" Participatory Photography Project

The How We See It participatory photography workshop is an ongoing collaboration between students from California State University, Northridge and community members at the Holy Family Service Center, St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood. The project involves pairing up students with individuals from the homeless community who frequent the site for a variety of services, teaching them basic photography skills with an emphasis on street photography theory and practice. The students assist the instructor in mentoring and editing the participants’ work, using Nikon Coolpix cameras to document their lifestyles and environment. The first phase of the project is culminating with an exhibition at the Museum of Social Justice, which will run Jan 16-26. The second phase of How We See It begins in late January. All of the photographers will continue to participate, and we will incorporate more editing skills into the workshop, with the emphasis being on the creation of a full-scale photographic documentary-style presentation on living the homeless existence, as seen through the lens of those actually experiencing it.

Then photographs that have been produced already are a beautiful testament too our shared humanity; the university students have gotten a very challenging and rewarding experience, and the homeless folks who are involved have had the opportunity to express themselves visually as artists and in some cases as social commentary. The therapeutic, and cathartic potential of art making has really been the most significant aspect of the work so far, and we hope to continue to expand the project.

Funded by Homelessness (January 2020)