I spent the day at the Booth Centre today, a drop-in for homeless people in Manchester, where I’m going to be taking photos several days a week over the next month or so. It’s an amazingly positive little place, where the 100 or so users – many of whom are street drinkers, drug users or living with mental illness – engage in a variety of positive activities, from art groups to swimming and gym sessions and music classes. This afternoon was cooking. Obviously.Â Fishcakes, in case you care.
What I think is going to be an interesting challenge for me as an inexperienced photographer is to deal with the fact that a few users really don’t want to be photographed – for a variety of reasons – while others are fine with it. But during the activities they all completely mingle, which means I’m going to have to bear this fact in mind at all times. Even today out of the three people at the cooking session, one man didn’t want me to show his face. That put me out of my comfort zone immediately because it limited the way I could move around the space.Â I guess this is something that will just resolve itself over time, as I get to know individual people more. I hope that my approach may win some of the more reticent ones over – I try to be very gentle and sensitive in these situations and to draw as little attention to myself as I can. Maybe once they learn to trust me and get their heads around what I’m doing there, they’ll change their minds.