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MyLondon photo contest returns in July

Cameras to be handed out at St Paul's Cathedral on 6 July

One hundred people who have lived experience of homeless will again take part in the annual "camera to calendar" project.

The goal is to empower people through photography and help them connect with the wider community. Cafe Art co-founder Paul Ryan says that the goal has always been to help people learn photography skills by focusing on what they love about London. "This is not a project focusing on homelessness in the photos but on London and what people love about their city, whether it's the people, the buildings or anything that would make a great calendar photo." Ryan added that the photographers can say what they want when they write their stories and many do talk about homelessness. "We encourage them to speak and write about themselves but if they don't want to that's OK. The goal is to help them through creativity and later, if they want, through selling products made from their photos."

Since 2012 Cafe Art's calendars have raised more than £200,000 for the homeless charities and participants. This includes prize money and income from the sale of photographs, cards and calendars. In 2020 the contest with 100 film cameras was cancelled because of Covid-19 but £5,000 was still paid to 12 photographers for their photos from previous contests and to four of the main market vendors who were sheltering. In 2021 there was a digital contest only - the best photos are now in the 2022 MyLondon calendar.

MyLondon has helped other organisations set up projects in many cities around the world, including Budapest, New Orleans, São Paulo, Sydney, Perth and Toronto. Cafe Art is currently setting up MyWorld, a charity to help those cities and more do the project.

The top 20 winners are chosen by a panel of former homeless photographers, professional photographers, representatives from the homeless charity sector and from the Royal Photographic Society.

All participants are invited to join the Cafe Art RPS Photography Mentoring Group run by volunteers from the RPS. In this group, which meet in person and online every Saturday, they learn how to use digital cameras. This group also has exhibitions curated by the RPS.

Every participant who takes a camera and returns it seven days later can enter photos into the annual MyLondon exhibition. "It's a huge boost to people's self esteem to see their photos in the exhibition'" says Ryan.

After the top 20 photos are selected there will be a public vote and from that vote the 2023 MyLondon calendar will be created.

For more information about the 2022 camera handout please contact Paul Ryan. All participants have to have had lived experience of homelessness. Cafe Art is contacting art groups in homelessness-sector organisations and many of the MyLondon participants will come to the events this summer with their groups.

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