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Unfiltered is a six week photography project designed to help vulnerable young people aged 14 to 16 explore the themes of belonging and identity.


Covid-19 update

The pandemic has turned the lives of millions of children and young people upside down. It's also changed what kind of activities are safe to continue. From September 2020 we're pausing many of our existing programmes, including this one, and refocusing our Luton work on where we can make the most difference to those who need our help.

The selfie generation

Teenagers take an average of 22 selfies before they find one they are willing to share on social media. They are likely to take more than 26,000 in their lifetime. Photo-sharing platforms like Instagram can be a great source of entertainment and connection, but they can also foster an intensely anxious culture in which appearance is everything. In the words of Franz Kafka, “Strange how make-believe, if engaged in systematically enough, can change into reality.”

Commentators describe this generation as the most physically safe but emotionally fragile in history. One of the ways to counter these insecurities is for young people to develop a strong and confident sense of identity and belonging. Everyone wants to belong. It’s a basic human need: belonging is connection, inclusion and community – it deepens our relationships and gives us a place to call home. It gives us both a place to stay and a place to go: motivating us to participate more in the communities around us.



Unfiltered is a six week photography course that balances practical sessions about how to improve photography skills, with explorations of identity, friendship and social media that will help young people think about what it means to have a strong sense of identity.

Each week the young people will get expert teaching as they learn about a new element of photography such as lighting, background and focus, each of which correspond to a different reflective theme explored in a ‘snapshot’ session. On one hand they’ll be learning practically how to frame the perfect photo, and how to tell a story through still images. On the other they’ll be asking: ‘what does it mean to accept myself?’; ‘what do I want to share, what am I hiding?’ and ‘what does real connection/relationship look like?’

Halfway through the course young people will take part in a fun activity evening where they can enjoy the friendships they’ve been making. During the last week, they’ll be presenting the photos they have taken during a presentation and gallery evening. This will allow the young people to show others their creativity and share with them the journey they have been on.

The course is broadly aimed at, but not exclusive to, vulnerable young people. That could mean those in care, or those who are refugees. It might also mean those at risk of CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation), or involvement in gangs.

All equipment is provided on the course, though young people are welcome, at their own risk, to bring their own smart phones or cameras.

Courses run for six weeks and draw young people from different schools and contexts. Although some are nervous of attending for the first time, the team are experienced at helping young people feel at ease, and the groups quickly connect and form a strong bond.


Who is Unfiltered suitable for?

  • Young people aged 14 to 16 who are interested in photography - from selfies to serious picture-taking
  • Young people whose sense of identity is fragile through external factors like involvement in unhealthy social groups or gangs
  • Young people whose sense of belonging and identity may be affected by external circumstances like being in care or being a refugee

What will young people learn?

  • Key photography skills including framing, lighting, background and focus
  • How to reflect on their own sense of belonging and identity
  • Creative skills to help them stay emotionally healthy

Getting advice and making a referral

Unfiltered is offered at no cost as part of Youthscape's work as a local charity in the community. For any enquiries please get in touch with the Unfiltered project lead Vicki Miller, using her contact details on the side of this page. To make a referral, complete a referral form for the young person.

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