Poignant photography project offers glimpse at refugee crisis through refugees’ eyes

A poignant photo series looks to show the refugee crisis through the eyes of the refugees themselves.

Covered in blankets, refugees are standing in line in front of an temporary refugee camp while the dawn already begins

Covered in blankets, refugees are standing in line in front of an temporary refugee camp while the dawn already begins

There is no shortage of photographers covering the crisis, but Kevin McElvaney decided to flip the documentation on its head, handing single-use cameras to a number of refugees.

Dyab from Aleppo, Syria photographed his wife and son Kerim on a bus station

Dyab from Aleppo, Syria photographed his wife and son Kerim on a bus station

The #RefugeeCameras project started in December 2015, with Kevin, 28, supplying 15 cameras to those travelling from Syria and Iran; between the likes of Croatia, Macedonia and Slovakia; and across Germany.

Kevin, from Hamburg, Germany, said: “The refugee situation is very well documented but somehow the first-person view was missing.

In a small book, refugees wrote about their stories

In a small book, refugees wrote about their stories

“I try to let the refugees talk by themselves and give them a voice.

“There are also situations, when journalists can’t be present and if one of them decides to capture an intimate moment, that’s a totally different statement and message, I think.

Refugees sit on the floor in an overcrowded train in Germany

Refugees sit on the floor in an overcrowded train in Germany

“I just tried to complete the whole narration, and also give the refugees a human face and story of their own.”

Hamza and his friend Abdulmonem from Syria photographed, how refugees help each other to get off the dinghy. There have been no volunteers to help, when they stranded

Hamza and his friend Abdulmonem from Syria photographed, how refugees help each other to get off the dinghy. There have been no volunteers to help, when they stranded

Of the 15 cameras handed out, Kevin received seven back.

They showed refugees packed into an overloaded dinghy, coming ashore, standing around a bonfire, and travelling on trains.

Saeed from Iran was met on a Bus from Atehns to Idomeni

Saeed from Iran was met on a Bus from Athens to Idomeni

While working on the series – which is set to be exhibited across Europe – Kevin said one of the most interesting aspects was seeing the different approaches the camera-holders took.

After walking up and down the hills towards the next village, the group of Hamza and Abdulmonem takes a break

After walking up and down the hills towards the next village, the group of Hamza and Abdulmonem takes a break

Some snapped positive moments of their children, while others used their cameras to highlight the harshness of the situation.

Kevin added: “I met many refugees at events in Germany and the stories they told created pictures in my mind.

An exhausted woman can be seen between other refugees on the overcrowded dinghy

An exhausted woman can be seen between other refugees on the overcrowded dinghy

“Unfortunately, they often didn’t document these essential moments and I wondered why.

Dyabs son Kerim jumps around and smiles after they ariive in their temporary sleepingroom in Germany

Dyabs son Kerim jumps around and smiles after they ariive in their temporary sleepingroom in Germany

“I found out they often use their phones to communicate or navigate, not too much to document the route itself.

“It often turned out that the refugees were able to capture each moment well, because I understood what they wanted to tell me.”