So things have slowed down a bit since the influx of comments and page views I received after posting my work from the Newquay shoot. I would like anyone who is interested to know that I am still continuing the project, however it is going to be a longer process then I previously imagined. And for those of you who care, that post has received over 300 hits and has got a couple of comments from civilians of Newquay, not to mention the fact that Denise - the ex-social worker - got in contact with me via this blog to help me with the project.
I have visited the homless guys in Newquay three times now, each visit being averagely six hours in length; however, during this roughly eighteen hours of contact time I have only shot one roll of film. It is going to be more difficult than I anticipated to fully gain their trust, and I have not yet reached the point where I feel completely comfortable pressing the shutter. Sometimes I get frustrated, and think "why am I really here", but then I remind myself that this is quite different to anything I have done before and that these people have every right not to be comfortable with me yet. It's funny, really, each time I leave I feel a pang of disappointment because I didn't shoot anything, but then I think of how far I have come already in terms of trust - I have already gained the nickname 'Paparazzi', and word of my presence has apparently spread - and I am filled with a new sense of determination to keep on returning and fulfilling what I have set out to do. It's almost addictive, in a strange way - I always look forward to my next visit, knowing that I probably won't be able to comfortably photograph again, but I will be one step closer to doing so.
Next weekend should hopefully see a breakthrough; I will (hopefully) be spending the day with 'Chris the Fish', a rough sleeper who works on a charter fishing boat. He does not get paid for the work, but - in his words - "it keeps me off the street and out of trouble". It is a great example of how willing some of these people can be, and I really hope that I can get permission from the skipper of the vessel to allow me to come on board.
I have come to realise, also, that the only way for me to be completely accepted in to this community - and to really experience what it is like to be homeless - then I need to rough sleep with them. I have had this thought in the back of my mind since I started this project, and it is only now that I fully realise it is exactly what I need to do. If I am to tell their story it can't be from me just turning up on the train every Wednesday and Saturday and then going home again in the evening - that would be hypocritical of me to say the least. I need to immerse myself in their lives, to feel what it is like to sleep in a shelter or a squat or an abandoned caravan or a tent on the headland. Only then will I be able to photograph their story. [pause for effect. end of dramatic speech]