Giving everyone a chance to be seen during Homelessness Week

August 1, 2017

To mark Homelessness Week (Aug 7-13)  Foundation Housing gave some residents of our Hampton Road Lodging House the opportunity to have a portrait taken of themselves by a professional photographer and receive a framed print from the session.

Photo portraits are a traditional way of recording a person’s unique identity, and displaying a photo of someone in your home is a symbol that you love and value this individual.

Many lodging house residents have come from backgrounds of homelessness or housing instability and with this can come a loss of identity, connection to family and the feeling of being valued as a person.  We understand that many residents feel ‘unseen’ by society and may have experienced prejudice and exclusion based on their appearance or circumstances.

Thanks to a grant from ShelterWA and Lotterywest we were able to give some of our residents the opportunity to be recorded on film in a sympathetic, flattering and respectful way.   Portrait photography specialist Rentia Ouzman from Veranda Portrait Studio carefully posed each subject and encouraged them to open up to the camera. The result is a series of warm and authentic portraits.

Reactions to being photographed varied.  While some people were more comfortable than others being the centre of so much attention, all were pleased to have the opportunity.  One resident in his forties said he hadn’t had his photo taken in this way since he was a child.  Another man, currently dealing with some serious health issues, was planning to give his portrait to his mum. For another resident, it was a timely celebration of having lost a significant amount of weight.

Some of the residents, such as Ruth and Les, have given us permission to share their images and some details about themselves during Homelessness Week.  Keep an eye on Foundation Housing’s Facebook page for more of these portraits. We also encourage you to support ShelterWA’s campaign to help people in the 50 Lives 50 Homes program, who were previously homeless, set up their home with essentials.