Alejandra Carles-Tolra is a photographer. She uses photography to support people from vulnerable backgrounds.
What’s your favourite thing about London?
I love the variety of people you can meet in the city; the variety of things to do. When I’m in London I try to see as many photography exhibitions as I can.
How do you manage stress in a busy city?
I cycle a lot. I recently discovered the velodrome in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. It’s really wonderful; you can cycle without any cars around – it’s a luxury!
Tell me about the work that you do?
Alongside my freelance photography work, I design projects for vulnerable communities. I guide them in how to use photography or visual collage.
I work at the Helen Bamber Foundation, [a charity] supporting people who are asylum seekers and survivors of human trafficking. We get together with people with different backgrounds and stories, and it’s like a photography club.
We try to create a place where people are comfortable to come on a weekly basis, to have a sense of routine and create a sense of belonging.
What does photography offer to those you work with?
You learn a new skill, and you get to share your creativity and embrace different ideas. We do different things. Right now we’re creating an exhibition for UCL [University College London]. We’re making work that is related to the theme of displacement.
Photography is what brings us together, but there’s much more to it. It’s a place where people can meet new friends and feel like they’re part of something.
What would you suggest to anyone interested in using photography as therapy?
Photography teaches you to try to find the unexpected in everyday moments and try to feel excited, even if you’re having a hard time.
You’re perhaps facing a routine that is not inspiring. Forcing yourself to look at things in a new light and make the ordinary extraordinary is a wonderful exercise. It helps you to think creatively and be engaged with what you see.
Go out with a camera and set yourself different goals.
Please take a look and support the amazing work of The Helen Bamber Foundation
Alejandra Carles-Tolra, born in Barcelona. Lives and works in London, UK
Available for commissions:
Article conceived and written By Octavia Bell
Octavia is a Reiki therapist and spirituality coach based in London. She holds weekly meditation classes in Streatham Hill.