What is unusual is that, thanks to a quintessentially French set of crosscutting interests, the photographers are homeless men and women who were given cameras and technical guidance by a charity. Their portrait of Paris is surprisingly beautiful, touched less by the artists’ painful circumstances than by a longing for respite from bleak lives.
“It’s the negative and the positive,” said Lorenzo, 55, one of the photographers, who, like most of those interviewed, declined to give his last name. ...
The photography project was the brainchild of Elisabeth Tiberghien, a retired professor who decided to act on a long-running desire to help the homeless. First she volunteered at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Roman Catholic lay charity that is dedicated to aiding the poor, and then she started an organization of her own, called Deuxième Marche, or Second Step. She corralled friends and acquaintances to serve on her board and opened a small storefront from which the group has so far helped 150 people get off the street and into subsidized housing.
With help from a board member, she teamed up with Wipplay.com, a website for photography that, in collaboration with Olympus, agreed to provide her with digital cameras, Olympus point-and-shoots, for homeless people who wanted to try taking pictures. She contacted those she worked with or knew through other organizations for the poor, and 15 men and women volunteered to take the cameras and shoot for a month. Only two did not finish the project.
Check out our previous post on Saint Vincent De Paul Society, by running a search within this blog!