Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Jay at the Accumul8 Shoreditch workshop.

Learning photography at Accumulate isn’t just about learning photography.

Accumulate is all about learning. learning new skills, learning about photography and for the young people involved, to learn more about themselves and their potential. One thing Accumulate also tries to do is to vary the learning styles we use as much as possible. So, even though, we are delivering photography workshops every week and the participants are learning to use DSLR cameras and how to take good photographs, the learning also comes from industry speakers, visiting galleries and exhibitions, doing activities and developing personal skills (such as communication, time management and self-discipline skills) in a comfortable and trusting environment.

This is all part of a journey that the participants go on. It is a journey of self -discovery, such as when the group did the portrait workshop at Photofusion and wrote letters to their future selfs. They decorated their portraits with stickers and jewels and shared their insights and letters with each other. It became a situation where people opened up and talked about their hopes for themselves.

Sharing and learning together at the Photofusion workshop.

Sharing and learning together at the Photofusion workshop.

Louis shares his letter to himself in 15 years time.

Louis shares his letter to himself in 15 years time.

A really popular, and very exciting, annual Accumulate photography workshop is the visit to London Fashion Week where the group photographs all the fashionistas who hang about outside the shows. This year, we held the “pre-workshop” at Somerset House and invited three fashion industry speakers to tell of their stories, their set-backs and achievements. One of the speakers was Tori Taiwo, a fashion designer and photographer, who had been previously homeless, and told the group that their situation should not be used to hold them back but can be turned into something positive. A really hard hitting, powerful and heart felt message for the Accumulate group, and Tori spent time speaking about how her own personal negative situation which became a force for eventual success. All it took her was self-belief, grit, determination and resilience. And those don’t cost anything.

Younnis shares his photograph with a fashionista at London Fashion Week.

Jay shares his photograph with a fashionista at London Fashion Week.

And so the Accumulate photography workshops have now come to an end for 2017 and the selection process starts for their exhibition.

The last workshop the group had was a street photography session which took place in Shoreditch. Shoreditch is all about of crazy graffiti, Hoxton hipsters and cool cafes, but this last Accumul8 workshop was actually about learning that everyone had been on an incredible life journey. They had become more confident, happy, made new friends and were enthusiastic and energised by their new skills. This is true for the Accumulate participants and also the Ravensbourne students. Just young people who enjoy learning, sharing and being with each other. Roll on the Accumulate exhibition!

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Jay at the Accumul8 Shoreditch workshop.

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Younis at the Accumulate Shoreditch workshop.

The Accumul8 exhibition at The Guardian

July 14th was the opening night of the Accumul8 exhibition and what a night it was! The best bit was seeing the Accumul8 participants run into The Guardian exhibition space and literally whoop with excitement at seeing their work displayed in such a prestigious space. They were so proud of their work, so enthusiastic and excited to speak to all the visitors and even happier when they sold their photographs! It was a beautiful moment to see them being celebrated and rewarded for their talents and achievements and feeling so positive about themselves, their value and their potential.

This film was made by Simon Allinson, a Ravensbourne graduate, about the private view and you can hear Jamal and Isaac speak about what they got from attending Accumul8 and how they have benefitted. Pretty much sums it up!

Preparing for the Accumul8 Photography Exhibition

This week was the start of the big journey towards the grand Accumul8 exhibition at The Guardian, opening on July

Starting the selection process

Starting the selection process


And what a week it was! We started and completed the selection process of the photographs that have made the grade and will be shown. We also were able to celebrate and congratulate all the young people who had participated in the Accumul8 project on their achievements so far.

We were really privileged to have Luke Dodd, curator of The Guardian space, and Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery, make the big decisions as to what will be shown and to also hear from the real professionals about why they were making specific choices and why certain images were worthy of being exhibited. Both Luke and Brett were really impressed by the work and Luke spent considerable time afterwards talking to the Accumul8 participants about their individual photographs, their talent and their potential to take their photography further.

Luke and Brett curating the images that will be shown at the Accumul8 exhibition

Luke and Brett curating the images that will be shown at the Accumul8 exhibition

This was very timely, as this year, for the first time, Accumul8 will be awarding one, very lucky, Accumul8 participant a scholarship to study on the Access to HE Diploma in Creative and Digital Media at Ravensbourne. The Accumul8 scholarship will cover their fees, plus there is also the possibility of having their laptop and camera paid for as well. Our thanks go to Burns Owen Partnership for supporting the Accumul8 Scholarship.
The goal is eventually, for the recipient of the Accumul8 scholarship to then become an Accumul8 workshop assistant and role model for future participants of the Accumul8 creativity project for young, homeless people. It’s a case of education changing lives, creating new futures and good, old reciprocity.


The Accumul8 group get to see what of their work has been chosen for the exhibition.

The Accumul8 group get to see which pieces of their work have been chosen for the exhibition.

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The Accumul8 group on top of Primrose Hill

Countdown to the Accumul8 exhibition

selection2choosing photos for exhibitionThis week we started to select the photographs for the Accumul8 exhibition at The Guardian headquarters in King’s Cross. It was wonderful seeing the participants’ confidence grow as they realised that they had a collection of images that were worthy of being in a public exhibition and were making and understanding choices as to what is a great picture. ‪#‎OthellodeSouzaHartley‬ and ‪#‎SteveFranck‬ did a great job with the first edit, the next edit for the show will be with curators from ‪#‎TheGuardian‬ and ‪#‎ThePhotographersGallery‬.

Photos: Jamila gives her photo selection the thumbs-up!

Jamila gives her photo selection the thumbs-up!

Time to reflect and time to plan

The Accumul8 exhibition opened this year’s Crouch End Festival. The exhibition had visits from schools, project funders, the mayor, local MP’s and councilors and also, most importantly, from people  that have supported the project over the past nine months, from set-up to delivery. The Accumul8 exhibition has been such a success that the dates are being extended and the exhibition will now continue until 6th July.

The exhibition looks professional, with 60 images taken by the residents over the duration of the photography workshops. All the images are framed and numbered and all convey a story of how a group of particular people see their world. What’s even more brilliant is that we have sold quite a few of the photographs. All the money will go to continuing the project and developing it further so that it constantly adds value to the residents’ lives.

And value is a key word. The Accumul8 exhibition is an endorsement of the value of young people, what they can achieve if they are valued and what and who we value in our society and community. Through the Accumul8 opportunity, these young, homeless people were given a voice – a voice that people wanted to listen to and learn from. They were given an opportunity to express themselves and work towards a shared goal, and they had become valued participants of a project that had a direction for them and valued them.

The outcome of this process was an exhibition of their photographs, with people wanting to talk to and engage with them. A disenfranchised group of vulnerable adults had now become the positive, celebrated centre of attention. They were now photographers with work in an exhibition, work that was being admired and that people wanted to purchase and wanted to talk to them about and find out more about them. A very different sensation to feeling “outside”, worthless, rejected and excluded from society and what it had to offer.

This, for me, was the biggest achievement of Accumul8 so far. Seeing and witnessing that transformation in people, their new experiences of pride and joy in themselves and their work and their newly found sense of self – value through being valued by others. It doesn’t take much to make that difference, but that difference makes such a difference and has made such an impact to their lives. Image