The outcasts project:
Heroin Users Help Us See Photos Of Addiction Differently
There is a long history of documentary photographers taking and publishing stigmatizing images of heroin users. For over a year, I tried to produce humanizing photos of three long-term and vulnerable heroin users in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside taking part in North America's first heroin-assisted treatment program. I realized the photos couldn't tell the participants' full stories so I asked them to help interpret the images. This three-part series was published by Medium/Vantage in 2016. To see the interactive multimedia project and hear the participants' voices, I invite you to explore The Outcasts Project online and read more about the project below.
My research focuses on interactive documentary production involving testimonies of survivors of human rights violations, conflict and genocide. I have also been engaging in research-creation aimed at producing counter-narratives about long-term and vulnerable heroin users.
Chapter forthcoming in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction, eds. Hanna Pickard and Serge H. Ahmed.
For decades, documentary photographers and photojournalists have consistently produced stigmatizing, eroticizing and exoticizing images of heroin users. For over a year, I attempted to produce humanizing images of three long-term heroin users taking part in North America’s first heroin-assisted treatment program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. I discovered that on their own, photos are unable to communicate the full story of drug users’ lives and that addictions often stem from past traumas. In order to help amplify the voices and experiences of the participants, I conducted photo-elicitation interviews and asked them to express their thoughts about the photos. I invite you to view The Outcasts Project to see Cheryl, Johnny, and Marie’s stories and to hear their own voices: www.outcastsproject.com
Find out about our storytelling workshops:
StoryTurns collaborates with organizations around the world to facilitate innovative and empowering digital storytelling workshops. Trained facilitators support participants in script writing, photography, storyboarding and video editing. By the end of the workshop, each participant has created their own film.
A short video about our digital storytelling workshops.
My Mother's Light
By Lenee Son
Lenee Son explores how her mother's Cambodian origins have shaped their relationship. The story was produced by StoryTurns and Aaron Goodman.