The annual Hope in Shadows photo contest takes place in June and is open to Downtown Eastside community members living on low incomes.

To participate in the contest it isn't necessary to own a camera and no photography experience is needed. We provide the cameras. In fact, only photos taken with one of the 200 official contest cameras are eligible. The cameras are easy to operate, single-use film cameras. For those who have never used a camera before, or for anyone wanting to refresh their skills, we offer a photo workshop at the start of each contest.

The process of taking photos can show us something about the way we view the world. We each have a unique way of seeing. Photographers are visual storytellers. We all have important stories to share. The three-day photo contest is an opportunity for participants to share stories that are important to them and that come out of their lived experience. Those who get the most out of the experience come with curiosity and courage to get creative.

Everyone who takes part in the contest gets copies of their contest photos. These are mementos of the experience, and something tangible to share with family and friends.

Check out this video about the launch of the 2013 photo contest.

The contest jurors—professional photographers and artists, including Downtown Eastside community members—look for photos with artistic merit and subject matter that expresses something meaningful about the photographer’s daily life.

Photographers with winning photos collaborate with us to create the annual photo exhibition and calendar. Behind each photo is a story. We meet with photographers and the people in their photos to capture and share these stories in their words.

The contest winners and the annual Hope in Shadows calendar are revealed at a special ceremony in the community to recognize the achievements and contributions of all the winning photographers and the people in their photos.

If you are a Downtown Eastside community member and have questions about taking part in the 2015 photo contest, contact info[at]