The United States has long been a picture of wealth and progress for many. But the reality remains that a portion of the population are struggling, and the numbers are growing. Street photographers and documentary photographers have been working to raise awareness, but it remains a tricky subject to tackle for many of us, with the risk of stripping the homeless and the struggling of their dignity as human beings. But when you focus on individual and personal stories, such as the approach of Owen Kahn in his latest documentary project, it makes a more compelling case.
In his project called Struggling in America, Owen believes in using the power of photography as a catalyst for social justice. Since 2014, he has been partnering with food banks, homeless shelters, and other social service agencies to document the stories of financial hardships and homelessness in the US. Through interviews and photo sessions, he hopes to dispel the preconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the individuals and families that deal with this kind of adversity everyday.
Part of the project is the Struggling in America – Black & White Photo Book, which Owen is currently campaigning for on Kickstarter. He aims to publish it as a hard-cover book with black and white photos, interviews, and a written section briefly discussing the issues of poverty and homelessness in the United States.
“My plan is to continue photographing and interviewing a diverse range of people throughout the United States, resulting in a book and an exhibition. A brief but compelling interview accompanies each photograph with a description of the person’s situation in their own words.”
The project has reminded Owen that the circumstances these people are facing could easily be his, his family or close friends. By putting together a body of work on the issue, he hopes to spark the same realization in others and get them to take action.
“Most people in this country are insulated from the level of economic challenges and poverty that countless families and individuals deal with. Many more would be concerned about and sympathetic to this issue if they were made acutely aware of how deep the problem is by being exposed to the range of people living with this challenging reality.”
If you want to support Owen’s project and see it culminate in a photo book and an exhibition, check out the Kickstarter campaign to find out more and pledge your support.