Virtual gallery reflects homeless perspective



No one chooses to be homeless. Often living in life’s shadows, there are thousands among us who live an everyday reality of life on the streets. But in the words of Florida Conference Director of Connectional Ministries Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin, “homelessness doesn’t mean hopelessness.”

In March, 2017, 32 Fujifilm disposable cameras were offered to those described as homeless or socially vulnerable in Lakeland. The photographers for the project—modeled after a Café Art project initiated in London in 2012—worked to express their own interpretations of the world through the lenses of cameras over five days. Perhaps surprisingly, more than 80 percent of these cameras were returned displaying nearly 500 images.

A collaborative effort between the Florida Conference and Lighthouse Ministries, these 20 photographs were selected by area civic leaders and professional photographers for a grand open exhibit called My Town: Art from our Homeless Neighbors, May 5, at First United Methodist Church, Lakeland.

“It forced me to think about this issue,” said Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens. “Homelessness is a challenge for everyone. It’s a Central Florida challenge. And it’s a human challenge.”


Click on a photo for a closer look.

"Deserted streets except for one person in the distance. I love [Lakeland's] small-town feel in a big city." -Bret Myers

"This photo was taken at Lake Mirror. The two boys are enjoying an evening of play at this beautiful park setting. There's just enough breeze to launch that kite." -Dee Flowers

"I enjoy drawing. The lines of the statue reminded me of lines on a page. I thought it was interesting the way it twists around and frames the trees behind it." -Daquirie McCoy

"I think I caught the basketballs trying to escape as they realized they can't fit under the fence. Perhaps another day." -Ed Kulik

"These yard tools are resting before a hard days work." -Ed Kulik

"Homeless men, most of whom are coming from work to Lighthouse Ministries to shower, eat and sleep." - Mac Greene

"In the midst of life and chaos, God shows His beauty and the peace He has for each of us." -Kristina Andersen

"I was driving along I-4 when I saw this Ferris Wheel in the distance. The camera was on my passenger seat so I took a quick shot!" -Katie Boughter

"I was at the Strawberry Festival. It was a beautiful day, and I saw how the sun and clouds were shining through the Ferris Wheel. I had to take a picture of it. The sky was so blue!" -Katie Boughter

"A garden tour led by Miss Dee Flowers." -Kate Garnett

Title: Standing Your Ground "I was at Sunday Sidewalk Service when my best friend sat down beside this leg statue." -Karl Krell

"The boat represents broken people. Although we may feel broken, lost and out of place, we are always surrounded by God's beauty no matter where we may be in life. We should focus on that and not ourselves." -Nick Cassista

"God blessed me to fish the fishing capital of the world and to become a fisher of men." -Richard Barnett

"A sign I see often across from the Lake Morton Library." - Scott Bartlett

"When I took the photo I was thinking the sign reminded me that Jesus is the only way. How pretty it was around the sign reminded me that the journey with Jesus is beautiful." -Tracy Castro

"The hydroponic garden at Lighthouse Ministries. A serene example of God's peace and tranquility." -Troy Phillips

Photo by Brian Vick

Photo by Dustin Steedley

Photo by Josh Smith

Photo by Shannon Ramsey


Similar Stories


Related Topics




Donate here to the Florida Conference Hurricane Irma Fund to help churches and the neighborhoods that surround them. Volunteer to bring yourself or a team to help with the recovery. Together, with God, we are bigger!


Contact Us

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin L King Jr Ave
Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011