Powerful Non-Stereotypical Portraits of Homeless People

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Photographer Rosie Holtom, a long-time volunteer at a homeless shelter in London, embarked on a portrait project depicting homeless people in a very humane light that doesn’t exploit or stereotype their situation. Instead, the black and white portraits reveal a very human side to each individual, one that shows consideration for their value as a person with a place in the world, just like anyone else.

Instead of encouraging stereotypes of the homeless as drug-addled, disheveled, madmen, the photographer presents her subjects as they are—ordinary people—reminding viewers that the “homeless” is not a mythical breed of creatures to fear or look down upon. They are human beings, full of life, like anyone else. And, as the photographer says, “They’re not defined by the fact that they’re homeless.”

Holtom explains, “I was inspired to start this photography project because I felt a huge disconnect between the interesting people I’d met at Shelter from the Storm throughout my years volunteering there and the stereotypes we constantly see depicting homeless people in London, especially in the run-up to Christmas.” She adds, “Positive imagery is more powerful amidst the misery photography we get bombarded with. People are desensitized to that now… I wanted them to be viewed in a positive light.”

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