Who Has Experienced Homelessness? Photo Series Challenges Peoples’ Perceptions

Homeless photo project
Part of Christopher James Hall’s photo project where he challenges viewers’ perceptions on homelessness.

A photographer who was given his first camera when he was homeless which inspired him to break the cycle of transiency has explored his past with a project that challenges people’s perceptions of the unhoused.

Christopher James Hall photographed 20 people, 13 of whom have experienced being homeless while seven have not. He exhibited the photos in his native U.K. and challenged people to see if they could tell which is which.

Hall explains to PetaPixel that while homeless ten years ago he was invited to take part in a project that saw him document other people who are homeless. His photos were selected by the local council to be exhibited.

“Seeing my work on display was to be the moment that inspired me to break free from the homeless cycle and become a photographer,” he says.

Can You Tell Who Has Experienced Being Homeless?

A decade on and Hall is in a better place, now a successful wedding and portrait photographer he decided to revisit the project.

“I was emotionally pushed as I revisited the place where I slept rough on the streets,” he explains.

“It was hard as I encountered new faces being supported by the charity. I was also met with a mixture of sorrow and excitement when I met the faces of people that I knew, people who were homeless at the same time as me, who were still trapped in the cycle of homelessness.”

Homeless photo project
“This gentleman has experienced being homeless,” writes Hall.
Homeless photo p
This man has been in and out of homelessness.
Homeless photo project
This man has never been homeless.

Hall approached strangers to ask if he could take their portrait, something he found to be daunting.

“For each of the portraits in this project I had only a few minutes between the first moment of contact and taking their photograph,” he says.

“I didn’t have the luxury of finding a suitable location, I had to make the most of what was available for a background and light.”

Homeless photo project
“Another one that has not experienced being homeless.”

“A wonderful lady that I met on the high street, but no not been homeless either,” writes Hall.
homeless photo project
A person who is homeless and looking for work.
“Another gentleman who has experienced being homeless.”
Homeless photo project
“Not homeless but loved the opportunity to support the project.”
Homeless photo project
“Another one not homeless.”
Homeless photo project
“I caught this lady as she walked out of a shop. Not homeless again.”
Homeless photo project
“This homeless guy had just been given his Chelsea hat and didn’t want to take it off.”
homeless photo project
This man has been homeless for almost 10 years.
Homeless photo project
“‘The Professor’ – Although having a place to stay now, this charming chap is still a much loved member of the homeless community.”
Homeless photo project
This man has experienced homelessness.
Homeless photo project
This man has experienced homelessness and is also the photographer.
“If you have already heard my story you would know that I spent two years sleeping rough on the streets,” Hall writes.

The project has proven to be a success, just like the first one, it was exhibited and he submitted the project to the Guild of Photographers (a U.K. photographers’ association) which awarded him Craftsman status — an achievement Hall is extremely proud of.

“I have learned so much through doing this project not only in terms of the photography but also about myself,” he adds.

“I’m looking forward to taking this project to the next level as I continue to work with the homeless through expanding this exhibition and providing workshops and training via the charities who support them.”

Christopher Hall with his certificate
Photographer Christopher Hall in front of his homelessness project with his Craftsman status awarded to him by the Guild of Photographers.

The project is also on Hall’s blog. More of his work can be found on his website, Instagram, and Facebook.

Image credits: All photos by Christopher James Hall.