A PHOTOGRAPHER who is unable to hear or speak is for the first time having his work of local landmarks and the coast exhibited at a Westcliff shop.

Chris Tourle became interested in photography two years ago as a way to communicate with others and express himself.

The 31-year old, of Cranley Road, Westcliff, is a long-time volunteer with Shared Space, a growing Christian network of charity shops, and was born deaf and mute.

In an email to the Echo he wrote : “I have never done an exhibition before. This is the first time and I'm excited that people will see my photographs.

“It is a good way for me to communicate with other people as I am deaf and mute. I want people to see my photographs and hopefully buy them.”

The budding photographer hopes the money can be used for the Shared Space Boost Fund which gives away £100 every month to help people in Southend.

His work is being exhibited from today until December 20 at Shared Space, London Road, Westcliff.

Chris added: “It's my hobby. I started doing a lot of photography two years ago. Then I joined Benfleet and Thundersley Photographic Club and winning a prize in their competition encouraged me.

“I started looking at famous photographers and really enjoyed that and then I thought it was time to have a go myself. I have been studying photos from 1930's and onwards.”

Chris was born in Basildon and moved to Southend five years ago when he got involved with Shared Space charity shop, through his church ‘Church from Scratch’.

He said: “It is good to move to a town near the river and walk beside it, I love water and taking photographs of it. The pier is another of my favourite subjects.

“I like photographing lots of different things and especially landscapes. Learning new ways to take photographs and going for walks early in the morning to take the sunrise.

Graham Doel, development manager at Shared Space, said Chris has been an enthusiastic volunteer since they opened five years ago.

“Two days a week he's working away in the shop, sorting donations to raise money and help in Southend.

"We are passionate about investing in our volunteers and nurturing their talent to give them the best opportunities in life. Helping Chris do an exhibition in the shop is what we are all about - helping people to get going in life.”