Negotiating Access

Over the summer, we were given a task which I was most afraid of. This is something I am not very confident with, and that is taking pictures of people, and those people, have to be strangers. Taking pictures of people I know is hard for me enough, but taking pictures of strangers will be my main issue. How do I approach someone and ask for a picture? Would I offend them if I say I want their picture? Most people ignore the people who come up to them in the street, how am I going to make them interested in my work and wanting to be a part of my project. I have never done this before, so I don’t know what I should expect. In the brief, it explains this task is to challenge myself and push my out of my comfort zone.

When I was going into London to go to the Tate Modern Museum (which I’ve blogged about) I saw this women while walking back to the train station. As I was alone, I had plenty of time to watch her and get an interest in her. She didn’t say a word, but she was just sitting there with a plastic cup in her hands. I walked up to her and asked her a few questions. She told me her name was Sandie, she is 37 years old and she’s been homeless for 7 months. She has a daughter who she hasn’t seen in three years who is 10 years old. I was surprised how open she was to me. She told me that even though homeless doesn’t sound like the high life, she has met so many people who have helped her and she has never felt so humble. She explained that the other homeless people she had met are so generous and giving. She had learnt that the people who have little are more understanding, and they want to help someone struggling. I asked her how she got herself in her situation, and she said she was living with her best friend, and they both couldn’t afford to carry on paying their rent, so they became homeless together. I asked her if I could take a picture of her, but she said she didn’t want her face to be shown. So this was the best I could do.

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The main thing I struggled with this task was to approach people and find someone to talk to. Not many people wanted to stop and talk to me, which makes me think differently about the homeless.
Along side this task, we had to take portraits of people we know and admire. I decided to take pictures of my family. These series of images are ones I took at the beginning of this summer. It shows my auntie and two brothers. Maybe it might not be as interesting and meaningful to other people, but when I look at these pictures, it reminds me of Christmas and spending time with people who are close to my heart.

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