October 10, 2018

Low-income Photographers Share Stories through Their Own Lens

Press Release: Low-income Photographers Share Stories through Their Own Lens

Vancouver, B.C. [October 10, 2018]— It's a photography project that shares the stories of homeless and low-income people through their own lens, and in its 16-year history, it has put more than one million dollars directly into the pockets of people experiencing poverty in B.C. In an award ceremony in the Downtown Eastside this morning, Hope in Shadows launched what's expected to be another busy season of street vendor sales for the iconic community project and calendar.

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The calendar challenges stigma around homelessness and poverty by making space for people to share their own stories through photography. Street vendors who sell the calendar - all people impacted by poverty - take the photographs in a 5-day contest each spring using single-use disposable film cameras. This year, vendors were asked to capture images on the theme of “Spirit and Resilience.” After narrowing down roughly 1000 photographs to a Top 30, a community jury and public votes selected 13 photos to make up the 2019 calendar.

Photographers are involved further in the calendar's creation, with each photographer and anyone captured in a photograph invited to share their perspective on the story behind the image. It's an important avenue for self-expression for those whose voices are often silenced and ignored.

Hope in Shadows is a project of social enterprise Megaphone magazine, a non-profit that offers meaningful work for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Low-income individuals work as vendors, selling the monthly Megaphone magazine and annual Hope in Shadows calendar on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria to make community connections and earn income. Vendors buy each calendar for $10 and sell it to customers for $20. They keep the profits. It’s flexible work for people who may have barriers to traditional employment.

“The Hope in Shadows calendar offers a different perspective on poverty and homelessness, that of the people who live it.” says Jessica Hannon, Megaphone executive director. “These perspectives are often silenced or ignored. Our photographers and vendors, by sharing their stories, make their own lives and our shared communities better.”

The project is deeply meaningful for participants. “It's kind of a little childish,” explained vendor and photographer Buffie Irvine. “This started a long time ago, when I was a kid. I've never been chosen before, but being chosen for this...the little child in me [is] very happy.”

The winning photo and cover of the 2019 calendar was taken by vendor Buffie Irvine (Coast Salish). Called “Great Expectations,” it’s a portrait of her dad, Mark Irvine (Coast Salish), who is also a vendor, during one of their walkabouts at Crab Park in the Downtown Eastside. It’s an image that captures the bond of family, love and friendship Buffie and Mark share - and their trademark sense of humour and whimsy. "These relationships, and the beauty and spirit within them, might not be what most people think of when they think of their neighbours living in poverty," says Hannon. "But these photographs show us the the full human experience - from suffering to love and resilience. They show us we have more in common than we do that divides us."

As of today, Megaphone street vendors in Vancouver will sell the calendar as long as supply is available. Customers can find and pay vendors directly with their smartphone using the Megaphone App, available for free download from the iTunes and Google Play stores, or find where vendors usually sell by looking at the map on megaphonemagazine.com 

Link to hi-res photos from the calendar and this morning's award ceremony: Link to Dropbox

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 About Hope in Shadows and Megaphone

Megaphone magazine offers employment and empowerment to people experiencing poverty. Megaphone publishes a monthly magazine and an annual calendar that are sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by homeless and low-income vendors. Vendors buy each magazine for 75 cents and sell it for $2, and each calendar for $10 and sell it for $20. They keep the profit. By selling Megaphone and Hope in Shadows, people experiencing poverty, homelessness, and addiction or other health challenges can earn income through meaningful, dignified work.

For additional information or to set up an interview with winning photographers, vendors and project staff contact:

Jessica Hannon
Executive Director

Cell: 604-341-5005
jessica@megaphonemagazine.com

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