Exhibit Shows The World Through The Eyes Of The City's Homeless

Photographer Terry Swenson created the "The Picture This Project", at the end of 2012. She says, "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."
A new project by a homeless charity group engages people living on the streets of Houston to capture their lives in photographs. The results can be seen on the walls beneath City Hall.

Five days, 36 disposable cameras, 700 images. Picture This is a homeless photography project initiated by HomeAid Houston. It exhibits photos taken by Houstonians without a home of their own.

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
"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 Picture This Photo
"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.

Bio photo of Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Reporter/NewsLab Coordinator

Florian Martin is the KUHF NewsLab Coordinator. While guiding and overseeing interns, he works on his own stories and is always on call to cover breaking news and other media events...