Terry Swenson created the project last fall. She reached out to the homeless service organization SEARCH and asked homeless people to basically document their lives on camera.
“I told them they had five days to take the pictures and just to walk around in their day-to-day activities, whether it’s on the street or trying to find a job or whatever, and just anything that moved them or they thought kind of represented where they were in their life at the time.”
"Jail House Downtown" from The Picture This Project
Out of 700, she kept about 70 that she says she would use any time anywhere.
Swenson has photographed the homeless community for 12 years, but she says seeing the world through a homeless person’s eyes is different. For example, the image of a heavily trashed segment of a bayou.
“When I saw the picture that Ernest took and I saw the litter and I just associated it with Ernest taking that picture, and I thought, 'Wow, that’s what he sees.'”
Swenson says the pictures taught her not to judge the people in them but try to understand what the photographers are seeing. She hopes they will have the same effect on other viewers.
"Street Life" from The Picture This Project
Thirty-six of the images can be viewed until Tuesday in a tunnel underneath City Hall. After that, the exhibit will move to the lobby of the former Continental Center I at 1600 Smith Street.