Greek street paper vendor’s photography goes viral

Matina Pashali

One of the nominees for this year’s INSP Awards, Greek photographer and Shedia vendor Matina Pashalis has seen her work spread across social media this week after she was featured on Al Jazeera’s website.

Her story – and her incredible images, which reveal life on the streets of Athens following the Greek financial crisis – have been shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter.

Pashalis was a finalist in the INSP Awards 2015 for her photographic portrait of another homeless woman, 50-year-old Chrisoula (above), who lives among the bushes and trees next to City of Athens Cultural Center.

Matina Pashali 3

Pashalis’ story is tragically common in Greece, where unemployment has soared in the wake of the financial crisis that hit the country in 2009.

But she has found hope through Greece’s first street paper.

Matina Pashali 2

“Shedia was a lifeline for me,” Pashalis told Al Jazeera. “I earned my first euros this way and saw my life in a new perspective for the first time.”

Matina Pashali 1

Pashalis’ images originated from Shedia’s ‘Street Life: Images of our other selves’ photography project.

Back in October 2013, ten street paper vendors were handed with a camera and the opportunity to join in photography classes by a well-known professional photographer.

Shedia’s editor, Chris Alefantis said, “Their task was to depict the city through their very own eyes. Thousands of camera ‘clicks’ later, the result is phenomenal, not only as a city narrative from a very unique perspective of a homeless person, but, in addition, as an artistic result.

“80 of these photographs formed the material used for a photographic exhibition that was held in Athens, Greece, back in April-May 2015. All proceeds from works sold went straight to the photographers/street paper vendors. It is an on-going project.”

All photos by Matina Pashalis.