“My name is Wayne and am is a homeless photographer”

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Inzajeano Latif first met Wayne in The fall of 2020. The two have been working together ever since: Wayne, documenting his own life using a Polaroid digital camera, Latif offering photographic mentorship while creating a body associated with work about the lives of individuals who have experienced homelessness in London .

QUIET (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is an UK-based charity that works to prevent suicide. Find out more here .

Wayne is one of several people currently experiencing homelessness getting involved in the project, a commission rate organised by Marketing campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – the UK-based charity that works to prevent suicide – in collaboration with 1854. The project provides an intimate and honest regarding homelessness in the capital through the medium of photography.

“I have approached this task aware that these people are all extremely individual, each with very individual experiences. ” says Latif, a London-based photographer whose interest lies in giving a voice to minorities who are often unseen to, or forgotten by, society. The commission individuals range in age, from mid-20s to early-70s. Each story is unique. “They have the ability to been homeless in different ways, ” says Latif. “It is not necessarily what people would certainly associate homelessness with, that i think is important. ”

© Kerry Blake.

There is Dee, a grandmother happily married regarding 53 years, who became homeless following an accident at your workplace as a live-in carer. “I worked out things to do and found nature and parks in order to sit in, ” she says, recalling her period homeless in London, “museums plus art galleries to spend my times, as this was so really enjoyable. Occasionally I would sit down in Westminster Cathedral after the service and read my book in a quiet part. ” There is also Kerry, at this point, by her own admission, the “strong, confident, resilient 36-year-old woman” who first became homeless aged 14. Curtis, whose life started “spiralling out of control” after the death of his father, the black cab driver, and the loss of the family house within the stock market recession. And Wayne, who has been homeless for a number of years. “I found me personally on the streets trying to survive by taking drugs to lose hours of the day, not wanting to take a look at myself, ” he produces. “Had moments of being within the precipice of insanity. Luckily, somehow, I found photography to become a vice to slightly escape and be cynical about the situation. Not realising that will on occasions I capture great pictures. ”

The project has not been without its challenges. It was in Feb 2020 that an open call for the commission was announced. It is hard to imagine living without the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, but back then a lot of the UK was going regarding life acutely unaware of the thing that was around the corner. In a matter of weeks, Covid-19 took hold; the UK went into lockdown and almost everything came to a grinding halt. It was not until October 2020 that will Latif was able to start the commission and the participants, who are currently homeless, were given a Polaroid camera. At the end of October, merely a few weeks later, the united kingdom went into a second lockdown. By January, a third. But the project didn’t stop, rather this changed course.

© Dee Alison

“I had to have a Plan A, B, C and Deb and think in a spontaneous way, ” says Latif. Unable to photograph the participants or meet them personally, Latif used the time afforded by lockdown to get to understand the individuals and form relationships. Latif and the participants might speak on the phone, e-mail and video call. “I have had a chance to get to know many of them in a fairly intimate method, ” he says. “Having additional time has been a blessing. I have been capable of really bond with them and give them a lot more mentorship. ” While Latif was not able to take his own photographs during this period, the homeless participants every had a camera, many consuming photographs throughout the lockdowns.

It really is hard to find somebody who has not battled as a result of the pandemic; a few to a lesser, some to some much greater extent. Based on research by the Legatum Institute, almost 700, 000 individuals have been driven into poverty by the Covid-19 crisis in the united kingdom. More than 15 million people – 23% of the UNITED KINGDOM population – are currently living in poverty. “Society has been shook, ” reflects Latif. “There is a chunk of the center class who have really felt the pressure – the torment that Covid-19 has had on their livelihoods. Then think about the people that I am taking photos of. They have lived this way almost all their lives, or most of their lives. Even in the last year, many people still haven’t skilled anything like what these folks go through. ” 

@ Dee Alison

Mental health is at the fore. “I have been very cautious of the anxieties, stress and mental health issues that a lot of the particular participants are going through, ” says Latif. In some instances, a person’s struggles with their mental health have led to them becoming homeless. “I’ve noticed and felt that mental health has been a core factor for most of the participants, ” continues Latif. “It is a key factor that has led to other activities. Had society, parents and loved one’s been better-equipped [to deal with these mental health issues], I do think that will things might have been different for people. ”

Now 04 2021 and as the UK begins to open up with lockdown limitations gradually easing, Latif has had a small window to get out there and spend time with the project’s participants in person. “I noticed Kerry this morning and invested a few hours with her. She is doing so well, she’s actually into the whole thing, ” he says. “Then, I went up to North London and noticed Curtis and spent a while taking more portraits. He took me to some areas around London that he likes and we took some photographs right now there. ” The rest of the week has taken a similar form: “I begin the day early and split it up – because of the stress and mental health issues – meeting two participants per day. I find this is a good plus healthy balance for them plus allows me to meet all of them a few times on different times. ” 

© Saffron Saidi.

The pandemic has also forced Latif to reconsider his photographic approach to the commission. He started with a certain visual identity in mind but the restrictions from the pandemic meant he had to change tack. “I have had to think of a different approach that can be similarly powerful, honest and honest, ” he says. “There is no doubt it has been challenging. ” There have been other considerations too. Balancing the individuality of each of the subjects and their particular stories with the unity necessary of a cohesive body of work is undoubtedly challenging. “There needs to be an aesthetic that will filters, at least visually, through all the images, ” Latif says, “but at the same time each story is extremely individual. ”

This commission is much larger than a body of function. Latif has spent weeks getting to know the project’s participants, forming bonds and a degree of understanding of each of their person situations. Through the final collection – both Latif’s and the Polaroid images – they will be heard, their resided experiences seen. In doing so the dominant and often unoriginal narrative of homelessness questioned. “It is important that this work leads to positive conversations, ” reflects Latif, “whether about homelessness, identity, gender, race. ”

In this sense, they have always been important to Latif which he can relate to the participants on some level. “I have not been homeless nevertheless it comes to the issues they have been through, I can certainly relate, ” he says. “There have been occasions in my life where I have felt lost and impossible due to various circumstances. Being a brown man in London in the day was tough. Endeavoring to understand why things don’t proceed your way is hard, it grates on your mental health, you start thinking it’s you this is the problem and this leads you to definitely some dark places.  

“I guess that these similarities mean I am able to realize some aspects of their struggle. It has also made myself appreciate my own journey. ”

Each of the participants’ projects will be published on 1854. photography throughout June.

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is an UK-based charity that works to prevent suicide. Find out more here .

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