Don’t you think that everybody in a sense is a hero? That we all go through rough times in life? And that finding the courage and the strength to keep on going, to be yourself, to be a good person, is enough to be called a hero? To me it is.
My name is Alex and I am looking for heroes. I started this project when I needed more positivity in my life. Photographing people and sharing their stories was my way of bringing positivity back into my life and then spreading it to other people. I started by photographing people I knew, but soon I started stopping people on the streets of London and asked them questions that to me seemed the most important questions anyone could ever ask, like what makes you happy? What gives you motivation in life? What was the most difficult experience in your life?
Chi & Ebs think that having a twin is like having a double of one person
You always have someone that is there for you and with whom you can share a part of your life with. It is like living with your best friend.
To us, at first it is hard to tell them apart, but there are a lot of physical differences. When they look at each other they see someone completely different. It is only when they look at pictures of themselves that they see how similar they are. They also have different characters and interests. However, these aren’t obvious to everyone around as people very often confuse them for one another.
Belén worries most that she will forget how to smile
What gives you the biggest motivation in life?
“There are so many small things that keep my spirit alive but I believe that most of them could be summarized into one: to continue moving, whatever that might mean, wherever that may be.”
Sung Tai, she is 91 and is as happy as a 10 year old
Sung Tai is known by her family as Paw Paw, which in Cantonese means grandma. Paw Paw devoted her life to raising 7 children, to being a housewife and to being content. I don’t speak the same language as Paw Paw but no one has to translate the kindness and happiness that she sparkles with.
Paw Paw is always happy, always smiling and very often says “I am content”. She is the oldest person I have ever met, but also the youngest at the same time.
Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up and put your serious face on. Kids know how to appreciate the simple things and to laugh often, frequently without reason. Never stop being a child. Grow older, but don’t grow up.
Anna, a 30-year-old mum
“My niece has blood cancer. Since November she had 37 blood transfusions and as a family we feel like we have a responsibility now to make sure that that stays topped up, because only 4% of people in the UK give blood but about 25% of people in their lifetime will need a blood donation. So we really want to make sure that we get new donors.”
Hymn, a homeless man who writes rainbow-colored poems on the streets
“Gratitude is a mental attitude, And it’s our decision every day, What’s the game we’re going to play? Be grateful or complain it all away, It’s our decision, Is all I say.”
Hania, a 3-year-old no one thought would live very long after she was born
Hania was born 3 months prematurely and after birth she was in intensive care. She was dying, but held her ground.
Hania’s mum was 17 years old and gave her up for adoption. After hospital Hania was given to a foster family for 7 months. She couldn’t see anything because of a sight defect that no one seemed to notice. She had many health problems, but it wasn’t until Agnieszka and Wojtek adopted her that all of these were discovered. When she got to her current home she wouldn’t react to anything. She was a very sad child. It was only when she got given glasses that very slowly she started engaging with her new parents.
Now she is surrounded by lots of love and care. She talks and smiles a lot and her new parents are really happy to see her progress. They still have a lot of work ahead of them, but they have each other now.
Alain is looking for a new vision of the world
Alain is a model and is planning to go traveling or rather as he says “visit the world”. Thanks to photography he will be able to capture all the different visions he will see, bring them back to Paris and share them with people. Alain wants to create a collective, a group of people, that will learn from one another. Musicians, computer scientists – people with passion. The most important thing he would like to try and teach others is to live their passion instead of just working to earn money.
Elizabeth is 32 and studies fairy tales
Elizabeth always liked fairy tales. She finds interest in the stories and her favourite is Little Red Riding Hood.
Elizabeth is a researcher and a lecturer at University College of London. She studied the history of literature and was asked to teach something she was genuinely interested in. This is how she began teaching the history of fairy tales and medieval literature. Elizabeth is also in the process of writing a book about how fairy tales travel.
Hodaya, a 27-years-old Israeli who learnt to speak her mind during her service in army
“During my service I learnt to say what I think out loud without worrying that I needed to please anyone, that was a big lesson in my life since I never really had my own opinion until 17-ish. I always wanted everyone to love me so I pleased them all.
My service was amazing, I was a commander for new recruits and later a sergeant for 30 soldiers- having lots of responsibilities and dealing under pressure taught me that to get somewhere or something you have to work for it so no messing about with excuses just do it!”
For Cathrin taking her dog out bring her the most happiness
What’s the best experience you had in life?
“Having my children I suppose. I had six. I had a set of twins, but my daughter died. She was 40 and she died of an aneurysm, so I only have got one daughter now.”
You raised 6 children? Can you tell me more about that?
“I had to struggle. I don’t want to go back into my past because I had a bad marriage, but my children is my life. All my boys, you know, I’ve got 4 boys, but they all live in Canvey Island.”
Ashley is 36 and he used to be homeless
Ashley was addicted to heroin for 14 years. With hard work and a lot of fighting he gave up on it 7 years ago. Heroin is not an easy thing to get over, Ashley says. It is a lot harder to sleep on the street clean. Heroin comforts you, it wraps you up like a comforting blanket. But it was heroin that took Ashley to the street. He is really happy he isn’t addicted to it any more as already this year 3 people he knew died from heroin addictions.
When Ashley was on the street he was physically abused. People kicked him and put their cigarettes out on him. Now, he isn’t homeless and earns his money with a ‘Slap me 4 ur relief sign’. He views the sign as black comedy. Before he couldn’t see the faces of people who were abusing him. Now, these people present themselves in public. He made this sign last March and since then he has been slapped 16 times. This sign turned out to be the most successful for Ashley. It attracts a lot of attention and as Ashley says “I am a human being and I need attention”. Once, he even got a fine. £80 for trading without a licence. It was a victory for Ashley because they acknowledged that he wasn’t begging.
Ashley is an artist. He paints all the time. Sitting on the street is a day off for him.
The Queen of Hearts and The Mad Hatter – street performers who act on the streets to bring happiness to people
Do you like posing?
“Yes” ~Queen of Hearts
“We are actors. We do street performances. We play on streets to bring happiness to people.”
What’s your name? “Mad Hatter.”
Emerzy, a 38-year-old man of many interests
Photography became Emerzy’s passion when he found a camera at the age of 17. It isn’t his only passion though. He makes jewellery, cleans people’s gardens, he Djs, teaches people photography and does radio production as well. His biggest dream is to build an environmentally friendly studio where he could teach people how to feel beautiful about themselves in pictures.
Paloma is 24 and she loves words
Paloma is from Australia and works in advertising as a copy writer. She loves coming up with creative solutions for sometimes really basic problems. In her experience it can takes hours to choose the right words.
Meet Dalin, Ayse, Camsu and Melisa (left to right). They are teenagers and they are planning to earn the Duke of Edinburgh Award
The girls started the Duke of Edinburgh programme for people between the ages of 14-25 who want more from life than just “sitting on a sofa watching life pass you by”. Because of their ages they are starting with the Bronze award. To be awarded a Bronze level certificate, you need to do a minimum of 3 months working on particular sections that are outlined by the programme. The sections are divided into the following categories: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. The expedition section consists of planning and training for and doing a 2 day (1 night) expedition where you are expected to put up a tent, cook for yourself, navigate and hike. These girls have matching scarves and plenty of enthusiasm for their trip.
Rui dreams to become an actor
Why did you come to London?
“Because I wanted to change my life. I am from a small town. I was studying journalism and I wasn’t happy with that and I though I need to do something. I wanted to learn English and I always wanted to live in a big city like London. I had an opportunity to come here and I said yes. I stopped my uni and I came here.”
Do you feel that your life has changes?
“I feel I am on the right path because I took the biggest decision back then when I stopped everything to come here. Now I think it’s just carrying on fighting every day and trying to find the best way to do things and try to never lose hope and the energy to go for what you want. Because I think that when you do that all the time, like fighting for what you want, sooner or later it will happen, it will come. At least I hope and at least that’s what I believe.”
Kanatip Soonthornrak LoukGolf, English teacher from Thailand
“The best thing about life is that you can live your life and can just be who you are. I struggled a lot when I was young because I am gay and I am from a very small village in Thailand and people didn’t really understand me and I struggled. I cried a lot and I started learning English because I wanted to escape and I just hoped that English would take me to another world, a different world. And it did. And here I am.”
Meet The Thirst – the knights of peace and love
Why did you decide to start a band? “It’s a better way to getting to the politics. People don’t listen to politics. It’s a good way to spread a positive message. We are political activists as well.”
What message do you want to spread? “We are spreading the message of peace and love. We are spreading the message of fair democracy. There is no democracy in this country. There’s not much countries where there is actual democracy.”
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