ABOUT PICTURE THIS

I have photographed Houston’s homeless community for over 12 years, and more specifically the homeless men and women who live on the streets and under the bridges in downtown. In 2005, I joined HomeAid Houston as a photographer and writer. HomeAid is a 501 c 3 charity of the Greater Houston Builders Association. They build transitional housing for the homeless. There, I continued my photography, but as I engaged on a more personal level with the residents in the shelters we built, I was privileged to hear their stories and to appreciate their struggles on a deeper level.

This was a new perspective for me. I began to wonder what life looked like through the lens of someone who actually was homeless.

At the end of 2012, I met with several shelters in the Houston area and asked if their clients would be willing to use disposable cameras to document their daily life living as a homeless person. The subjects of the photos could be anything – from what a client sees everyday while living on the street, to those objects or things that might be important to them, to something that they might aspire to have, or be one day. It was a creative project in their hands, and it is called Picture This.

The shelters and their clients were happy to oblige. The photos that came back were amazing. From funny to heartbreaking, to inspiring to intimate, each photo is special because it tells a part of their personal story, through their eyes, through their lens.
The perspective brought by Picture This is unfiltered. It is new and impactful. It is very easy to get lost in the details of homelessness, in the statistics: numbers of people, beds, shelters, dollars it takes to create those new shelters and beds. With Picture This, my hope is that these photos remind us that behind the word “homeless”, behind all the statistics, there are real people, with names and with faces. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, children, babies, veterans. They are people like any one of us, they just have no place to call home.

Terry Swenson