When Pastor Jason Williamson set out to raise awareness for the homeless in his community he decided to incorporate his love for photography. But instead of making the homeless the subjects of the photos, he gave them cameras and let them take their own pictures. Thus, the Through Our Eyes Project was born.
"In the summer of 2016, 100 Fujifilm QuickSnap cameras were be given out to people who are living on the street, in a local shelter or are otherwise affected by homelessness in Spartanburg, SC.
Since then, the project has expanded to other cities in the US. Many other photographers were inspired by the Through Our Eyes Project and have lead their own projects in other states & countries. The project has also expanded to reach outside the homeless population to other groups of people with unique stories to share who also need encouragement and hope."
100 cameras are handed out, along with basic instructions for using the camera and tips for taking photos. Photographers then return the cameras five days later, where they receive a meal and gifts from volunteers. If they like, they can also enter their photos into a contest.
A team of judges review each photograph based on "image quality, composition, subject matter and storytelling." The top entries are then displayed at a month-long art show in a gallery for the community to interact with. These photos are some of the winners. The storytelling is a particularly poignant part of the pictures.
These images help us imagine what it'd be like to walk a mile in their shoes. Photographer Tonya Lee gave us a P.O.V. shot of what that'd look like to take "A Walk In Our Shoes." She detailed the inspiration behind this shot.
"I was walking up the road and that’s what I saw. It was truly not planned, but it’s how a lot of people get around."