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he is my friend

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‘Creativity’ might not be what you associate with a homeless charity, but St. George’s Crypt in Leeds is different in many ways. It was originally opened in 1930 when coffins were cleared from the crypt to provide shelter for the destitute. Their work continues today, supporting around 100 ‘clients’ on a daily basis, providing food and accommodation, practical advice and training.
The Crypt ran creative workshops with the actor Steve Huison (Coronation Street/ The Full Monty), and the writer Ian Clayton to capture the clients’ experiences. Story-telling sessions, creative-writing exercises, drama and song became an outlet for expression, with clients sharing personal details about their lives and current situations.
It was clear that they had all been let down in some way; by their families or friends, by the education, health or social services. This had sent many on a destructive and chaotic journey into alcohol and drug abuse, mental health problems or imprisonment.
Some are understandably angry at the world, but more have hope; hope that their lives won’t always be like this. They all share great empathy having experienced many similar situations. This binds them together like an extended family.
The creative sessions gave them a forum for discussion, and above all, a chance to be listened to.

Brand:Canon
Camera:Canon EOS 5D MkII
Lens:EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Recording media:JPEG (digital)
Date Taken:3 May 2011 - 12:27 PM
Focal Length:70mm
Lens Max Aperture:f/2.8
Aperture:f/3.5
Shutter Speed:1/100sec
Exposure Comp:0.0
ISO:3200
Exposure Mode:Aperture-priority AE
Metering Mode:Multi-segment
Flash:Off, Did not fire
Title:he is my friend
Username:kirsteenashton kirsteenashton
Uploaded:13 Jun 2011 - 10:10 AM
Tags:Charity, Christian, Faith, Homeless, Leeds, Photo journalism, Social documentary
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Comments

This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.
kirsteenashton
13 Jun 2011 - 11:12 AM

Hello Frank
Thanks for your comments. In this project we were exploring stereotypes, so it is interesting that we all have a view on what homeless people look like. Safe to say, that all of the clothes that these people are wearing are donated.
None of my pictures are staged, so it really is a case of observing and capturing moments that, I hope, speak volumes.
The ISO was high as this was in a dark room and I find flash intrusive; hard enough to persuade people who are at their lowest points to be photographed, let alone exposed to a flash gun.
If you are interested, you can see more images at www.kirsteenashton.com
I will also try to upload others from the series, as I'd love your feedback
Thanks
K

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Jestertheclown
13 Jun 2011 - 9:52 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Hi Kirsteen,
I rather think that this is one of those images who's apparent faults actually make it what it is.
Before I'd even looked at your description, I had a feeling that this shot was going to be about something along those lines.
The two main players are looking up, attentive and listening to someone or something and I feel that they're looking up in hope. Despite their situation, I don't see any anger or sadness.
I don't know how much preparation you were able to put into taking this shot or whether you just released the shutter at the right moment, the latter, I'd imagine but as you say yourself, it speaks volumes.
An interesting, thought provoking shot, well captured.

Bren.

Edit; I've bookmarked your website. I'm keen to see more.

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strokebloke
14 Jun 2011 - 10:24 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Kirsteen,
Your website is very powerful and does, unequivocally, speak volumes.
You photo, part of the content of that website. also speaks volumes.
The shot, as a statement, works well.
Shots like this generate photographic integrity, because of what they say.
It's clear - it's concise, photographically and in its declaration.
Excellent stuff. Keep it coming.

Like Bren; I've bookmarked your site.

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kirsteenashton
14 Jun 2011 - 10:44 PM

Hello Jestertheclown and StrokeBloke. Thanks so much for your comments. I am so glad that the message came across. I feel that it is only by understanding people and being sympathetic to their situation that you are allowed close enough to capture moments of pure emotion. To answer Bren, I prepared by being clear on what I was hoping to capture, and ensuring that my camera was set up right, but after that it is a case of looking, hard, and trying to predict when such images are going to fall into place. I find it exhausting but thoroughly rewarding as I feel that the resulting images do the subjects, and their situations justice, and even more rewarding given your feedback and encouragement.
Thank you
K

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