Saturday, May 22, 2010

Photographs of the Disabled and Things I Must Overcome

I just can't get over how gorgeous this woman's pictures of her children are. Particularly her baby daughter with Down Syndrome.

See, I have issues with photographs of disabled people. I hate pictures that show the disability more than they show the person. They make me cringe and look away. There are a couple of people I know of who are in the business of photography of the disabled, and working to show the person rather than the person's disability. But I don't know, I can still see it. I think the problem is me. I need to get past the fact that mentally disabled people are going to have a different expression on their faces than those who are not. I just hate that "disabled" look. Everyone has something going on in their heads, and I like for their faces to show what they are thinking.

I need to get past this and accept that when a photo displays evidence of its subject's disability, it is showing that true person. It's not criticizing or reducing that person, it's just presenting that person as he or she really is. Like this picture of Zack.

He jumps and wrings his hands and makes odd noises, and really creates a spectacle of autism. And he's doing that in this picture. It may not be pretty, but it's Zack. It's who he is. Then there's this one:

This picture illustrates how Zack likes to stuff things in his mouth, and he's truly more confident and agreeable when he's mouthing something. Not attractive, maybe, but it embodies him.

AJ more often displays a very typical child's face to the camera, but he has his quirks too.

AJ licks, chews, and mouths his fingers constantly. Reach for his hand and you'll get a good feel of slobber. That is just AJ. If I could explain why he prefers his fingers to other chewing objects, I would in a second. It's a sensory issue I just don't get.

These are my babies. I tend to print and publish only the pictures that show them looking as typical as possible, but that isn't their true story. And I want to be honest and faithful to them, and never let them think for a second that I disapproved of anything about them. Because the day is going to come when they will look at these pictures with knowing, discerning eyes. And on that day I want them to know we loved them purely and completely. Every part of them.

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