I recently did some work for Ability NB. I was asked to photograph 3 of their clients for some brochures and other media that would be going out. One of the great things about being a portrait photographer is interacting with my subjects, no matter who they are. I am definitely a people person and thoroughly enjoy meeting the people I photograph and getting to know them on a personal level. I was very much looking forward to this job but had no idea how much I would be inspired by the people I would be photographing. The mission of Ability NB is to empower the independence and full community participation of persons who have a spinal cord injury or mobility disability by providing innovative services and developing progressive public policy.
The first person I met was Don (he is in the first image, tending to his garden). The strength that exuded from him was tremendous. I was told ahead of time that I would be photographing him in his garden. We met and chatted a bit before we started shooting where I found out that he was an avid Montreal Canadians fan, and that he took care of his beautiful garden all on his own. He is very independent and watching him manoeuvre his tools in the garden is quite impressive. I say this because I can not keep plants alive no matter how hard I try. Needless to say I do not have a green thumb, perhaps a magenta one (photo joke)… He had at least a dozen planters throughout his property as well as the garden, that was sprouting some beautiful tomatoes. I don’t think his smile ever left his face the entire time I was there. He also introduced me to his cat Mittens, and I took a few shots of him and his cat as he said he didn’t have any of the two of them together.
I photographed 2 more subjects and my experience with them was exactly the same. The positivity was brimming from start to finish and we laughed and joked throughout the entire shoot. I don’t believe the word disabled should really be applied to the people I met. They are much more able than many people I know, and are living a more full life than many people with full mobility.
It was an extremely inspiring experience doing these images as I was introduced to people who I may not have met otherwise, and I truly believe my life is richer because of it. Whenever I think I don’t want to do something and am being lazy, I am pushed by the people in these images. While the main focus of my work is centered around fashion photography, I am a portrait photographer. One of the main reasons I enjoy doing portraits is because of the interaction with my clients. I have a genuine interest in getting to know them as a person and trying to get their personality to shine through in the images. I approach all my shoots in this way, whether it be fashion or commercial portrait work.
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