Photographing Toronto, Canada, Through The Eyes of the Homeless

MYTORONTO, a partnership of Ve’ahavta and the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, put disposable cameras in the hands of people who have experienced homelessness or are currently without housing. Their task: photograph whatever inspires them in the city.

The aim of the project is to shine a light on the resilience of people who are often overlooked in our society and to challenge the public’s perspectives on the systemic issues of poverty and homelessness in our city. These are not pictures about homeless people per se, but how the homeless view our city.

FUJIFILM Canada donated 100 single-use Fujifilm 35 mm, 27-frame cameras. The cameras were distributed on June 14 at the Ryerson School of Image Arts. Five days later, on June 19, more than 2,400 images came back. Ten cameras were not returned.

That first day, 70 people were given cameras, lunch and a short lesson on light and perspective. The extra 30 cameras were handed out by project volunteers to clients and friends who fit the criteria.

Judges picked 40 images that will be enlarged and unveiled at a public exhibition on October 18-22, 2017 at the Artscape Young Place (180 Shaw St., Toronto):

The photographer whose winning entry will grace the cover page of the calendar will win a prize of $500. Each month’s image wins $200 for its photographer, and $50 goes to anybody who took a top-40 image.

The top 13 photos will be published in a 2018 MYTORONTO calendar that winners will be licensed to sell on the street, which will provide them with part-time income. The calendar will also be available for purchase online.

Their stories will also be featured in the Toronto Star.

MYTORONTO goes beyond artistry as it seeks to challenge the public’s perspectives on the systemic issues of poverty and homelessness in our city.

MYTORONTO aims to:

  • Inspire 100 people affected by homelessness to create sustainable change in their lives through confidence building and the acquisition of photography and sales skills.
  • Encourage participants to partake in a photography contest and calendar project.
  • Empower 13 winning photographers, featured in the calendar, through speaking engagements and the recognition of their talent.
  • Provide part-time income for photographers and other vendors through the sale of the calendar.