Former homeless man captures life on the streets through his photography

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

What happens when a homeless person is given a camera?

In the case of the founder of The Arts Seen, Christopher James Hall, he becomes an award-winning photographer with a successful photography business.

He has now gone on to set up 'The Arts Seen', a not-for-profit community interest company which uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. 

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

For Christopher his dream of becoming a photographer didn’t start when he was a child, it started during a two year spell sleeping rough and getting by with the help of charities that support the homeless.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

During that time the homeless charity ran a photography project led by a professional photographer, and Christopher began to see the world in a different way, leading him to learn new skills as he put together a collection of images. 

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

His photography project was selected to go on display in the local museum and the library and was then adopted by John Lewis for display in their High Wycombe store.  

“It was funny when I was taken to John Lewis to see my work on display, not only for me but the customers as well. A homeless person looking around John Lewis, it must have been a sight. Then it was explained to the customers that I was the photographer behind the work on the walls and their expressions changed!”

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

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Life changed for Christopher when he went to live in a community that helps the homeless and then finally move to a place of his own.

The day after his return to what he describes as ‘the real world’ Christopher was given a second-hand camera. It was then he knew just what he wanted to do with his life. 

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

A few years later, and after a lot of hard work, Christopher is now running a successful photography business, has won numerous awards and is a holder of The Photographers Bar. Wanting to give something back, he decided to launch The Arts Seen so that he can help others in the same way that he was once helped. 

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges.

The Arts Seen uses photography to help those who are facing diversity, disability or financial challenges. - Credit: Christopher James Hall

It is already set to embark on its first project, working with Emmaus in St Albans to give their companions mentoring in order that they might capture life in the Emmaus community through photography.

Their work will then be displayed in a book and hopefully an exhibition.  

To find out more about The Arts Seen visit https://theartsseen.org.uk and to support the Emmaus project see https://gofund.me/a62cde21