Hello to everyone!
Just over a year ago, a fateful conversation took place in my studio that has since brought more purpose, gratitude and love into my life. I accepted one of the most important projects of my career so far.
Early last fall I photographed 31 children and adults for the Waterloo Region Down Syndrome Society’s annual fundraising calendar. True to my Type A personality just taking the photos for the calendar wasn’t enough.
Last October we launched a project entitled, ’31 days 31 faces’. Every morning we released a child’s photo and a quote from their parent(s). The feedback, support and interest in the project was overwhelming. Messages both publicly and privately came in from all over Canada and the US. At the end of the campaign, WRDSS had sold four times the number of their annual fundraising calendar over the previous year.
During the winter I began to think of this years calendar. I thought of these wonderful human beings that I met last year and their families. How was I going to create something special for them again?
This year I began photographing in August. I decided to take the photos in my studio and to present a collection of black and white portraits which focus on the face and soul each individual. Over the course of 3 days 50 people with Down Syndrome in our region from the ages of 4 months to 44 years old came to have a photo taken and to participate in this years calendar.
My studio was filled with laughter, a few nerves and so many wonderful people. I am incredibly honoured to present this years project entitled, ‘See Me.’ My name for the project is simple. Everyone just wants to be seen. Not for what they look like on the outside; tall, short, large, thin, black, white, brown, old, young, disabled or not. But seen for who they are as human beings. Compassionate, friendly, funny, empathetic, supportive, helpful, caring. People with aspirations, likes and dislikes. People with friends and families who love them.
It wasn’t that long ago that babies born with Down Syndrome were not seen. Many of these babies, children and adults were institutionalized and did not live full lives. They were made fun of, were not understood or valued as members of our society.
Thankfully this has changed and still needs changing. Children with disabilities are integrated into our schools, their families have found support groups and the life expectancy of people with Down Syndrome has improved greatly due to better medical care and support from our communities.
It is important to continue to support diversity in our communities and beyond and to teach our children to really SEE people. Please help support this project by sharing these beautiful faces throughout the month of October. Calendars go on sale November 1st. You can see the photos posted daily on the WRDSS Facebook page, One for the Wall Photography Facebook page or on my instagram @oneforthewall. I present…See Me.