Many photographers and journalists have been documenting the refugee crisis to show the world the situation on the shores of Europe in Lesbos, at Macedonia’s border in Idomeni, in Calais and other locations. People are often caught on camera in their terrible and frustrated moments, when they cry after jumping off the dinghies on Greek islands or suffer in camps under terrible circumstances. Reporters travel with the refugees, interview them and collect their stories, trying to get as close as they can so that they may truly understand and capture their lives. But as outsiders, they can never truly capture the refugee experience.
In December 2015, photographer Kevin McElvaney started the #RefugeeCameras project, which would allow refugees to document their own journey with single-use cameras, giving them the opportunity to tell the world their own story. McElvaney travelled along the refugee track from Izmir to Lesbos, Athens and Idomeni. At all these stations he met refugees, collected their stories and handed out cameras, some of which were returned in a pre-paid envelope. McElvaney received seven of 15 cameras back with images that show a rare glimpse into the refugee route.