British Columbia

This photographer wants your old, used cameras to give to people struggling with addiction

A Kamloops, B.C., photographer is asking people to donate their old digital cameras they don't need anymore for participants in the PhotoVoice project to use to document their lives as drug users.

PhotoVoice photography project aims to reduce stigma associated with addiction

Kamloops photographer Sara Schreiner will be actively involved in handing out cameras and collecting photographs from participants for the PhotoVoice project. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

A Kamloops, B.C., photographer is asking people to donate old, used digital cameras to her project, PhotoVoice, which will document the lives of people living with addiction.

Photographer Sara Schreiner, the Kamloops Arts Council and the Addiction Matters Kamloops Coalition worked together to come up with the idea for the project. PhotoVoice is meant to be an art exhibit, but Schreiner wants it to be an educational tool to challenge the assumptions people have about who is using drugs in our society.

"I think that our community sees addiction as something that's very street-entrenched, and that's simply not true," said Schreiner.

"If we don't as a community stop making assumptions … we're not going to move forward and make a solution."

Sara Schreiner said people often assume it's only people living on the street who are using drugs, and she hopes to change that perception. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Donated cameras must be digital, because Schreiner wants to give the people taking the photographs to have their own creative licence on their work, to be able to look at the images they've taken and change them however they'd like.

Instead of interviewing people and having them tell their stories through words, Schreiner said photographs and videos could make this project more comfortable for some participants.

Aside from old cameras, the project also requires people willing to participate and share their stories. People of all demographics who are living with drug addiction are being asked to come forward.

"For a lot of people, especially people who have experienced any kind of trauma, it's easier for someone to show you than to tell you," she said.  

The photos will be anonymous so not to compromise the participants' personal or professional lives in any way. Schreiner will curate the photos to make sure nothing damaging slips through the cracks.

The Tournament Capital Centre and Interior Health King Street Centre are accepting old digital cameras.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

About the Author

Courtney Dickson

Broadcast and Digital Journalist

Courtney Dickson is a journalist working in Kamloops, B.C. Email her at with story tips.