‘I was completely out of my comfort zone, but it was liberating’

Dan, a customer from one of our Bromley Services, shares his story about the Photography Course run by Accumul8, as part of our Work and Learning Programme.
‘Since rebranding as Evolve, the organisation has come up with some truly inspiring schemes.
Living here has helped me and although it’s certainly been a slow process, at some point in 2015 I became motivated for the first time in years.
I once again felt like living and wanted to step back into the real world.
What a great decision I made on one particular occasion many months ago, when I finally attended a customer meeting.

This is where we were all introduced to Tano, who works for Evolve as their Work and Learning Manager.Tano told us that in a few months, Evolve would be organising a photography course. This is when my ears pricked up.
‘Would anyone here be interested?’ he asked.
I don’t think I could have answered quickly enough! He continued to tell us that the course would end with an exhibition of all the students’ work, with the potential to sell our work.
Photography has always been something I have wanted to try. I’m a creative person and really thought this would be a great opportunity. And not just for me, but for all customers here that wanted to have a go.
The course has been very well organised by two very experienced and friendly people, Marice and Othello from Accuml8.
The first week was at the Fitze Millennium Centre, and immediately the group were given an insight into the basic workings of digital SLR cameras.
We were then all given our own camera and were able to go straight off around the building, taking photos.
I think it’s fair to say we all came away from the session feeling very excited and inspired.
Over the next few weeks there have been more workshops at various locations, all featuring varying themes for the students to work on.
The best week so far for me personally was again near Crystal Palace. For this session, we were joined by professional photographer Mark Kean. His idea was for the students to walk around the local area asking random people if they’d let us shoot them. So saying I was ‘anxious beyond belief’ would be an understatement!Eventually, I plucked up the courage and asked some random people myself. Not easy I’ll say, and completely out of my comfort zone, but it was liberating.
The highlight for me was of a trendy young couple we snapped. Marice has recently heard back from them and it turns out the man is a dancer from the band Little Mix! Apparently he really liked one of the photos I took and it’s been shared on social media. Amazing.
Recently, there was a session over at London fashion week with students taking photos of the some of the models. Interestingly enough, unlike near Crystal Palace the models didn’t need much persuading!
So the whole course so far has been amazing. There have been other sessions where all the students took passport style photos of each other. These are then going to be merged together and vastly projected onto a wall as an ‘average’ face at an exhibition at the Barbican!
As I type, I have just come back from a fantastic experience at the Tate modern. Inside, we went to a truly inspiring exhibition. The exhibition featured the works of many different famous photographers, both classic and contemporary.
We spent our remaining time taking photos in styles in which we were inspired by the exhibition.
All of this is leading up to an exhibition of all the students’ works in The Guardian(!)
So, to sum up, it’s been an incredible experience.
I have shared my experience of the course so far in the Evolve Spring Customer Newsletter and hope it inspires other customers at Evolve to have a go at challenging themselves, creatively- who knows where it will lead!

If you have been inspired by Dan’s story and would like to offer courses for our customers or help the homeless in London, then please see our volunteering and donations pages.
Dan, an Evolve customer's photo of backing dancer for Little Mix

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