It’s easy to dismiss Denver’s homeless population with stereotypes like “beggars,” “crazies,” or “addicts.” But every person living without permanent housing has a story as unique as the features on his or her face. Making those tales—and faces—resonate is the goal of photographer Dylan Burr’s coffee-table book (and art show and documentary) The Neighbours Project. Last year, Burr took portraits of 30 men and women experiencing homelessness at the St. Francis Center shelter. But instead of taking shots with the digital camera he uses as a wedding photographer, Burr employed wet plate collodion, a 164-year-old process that requires as much science as art—not to mention 15 minutes to create every photo. Chemically treated silver or glass plates are inserted into an antique camera and exposed to light to produce images that, Burr believes, emphasize the individual. “I want people who are looking at [the images] to think, ‘Where is he in his life?’?” Burr says. On March 27, he will auction off each of the original plates during a gallery show at the Studio Denver in North Denver. The St. Francis Center will get 80 percent of proceeds from the coffee-table book and 80 percent of sales from the documentary. But the money raised at the plate auction will go to the people photographed—to help them take control of their own stories.
Click through the slideshow above to see some of Burr’s work, and the faces of those in Denver experiencing homelessness. Photo captions were accurate at time of publishing.
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