Photography and the Exceptional

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Many photographers who do portraits shoots or just photograph people in general, usually tend to focus on the outer beauty of each person. Most magazine shoots that feature people also do the same.

Let's admit it, we as humans love to see beautiful images; breathtaking sunsets, extraordinary flowers, thrilling nature shots and landscapes and photos of beautiful people are no exception.

We often shy away from looking at images that reminds us of our limitations and opens a window into the realities that some people face, we rather ignore than appreciate. It is unfortunate that some of us feel that way but it's a reality nevertheless.

Having been involved in nonprofit work for several years, having been an educator and a social service professional plus having 6 (that I know) children of my own has allowed me to get a wide latitude and understanding in human relations behaviors and the human kindness factor that is present in most people especially children, yet I also witnessed the other side of the coin; mistrust for things we don't know or understand and the cruelty that we often subject others to.

I have seldom photographed anyone who was not camera ready ; beautiful, attractive or in some way offering a pleasing scene to my image's viewers. But part of my non profit work led me to some unusual circumstantial where I was forever grateful of meeting some extremely special people, who did not possess all of the typical "beauty" characteristics that photographers commonly look for.

However I was often amazed and touched by how kind, how giving and how accepting of their circumstances the majority of these subjects were and how joyously they approached life and wished for nothing more than to live their lives to the fullest.

These individuals are warriors in their own way. They may not have handled a weapon much less used it to shoot a t someone but like real warriors fighting in a real war, they fight and struggle everyday of their lives against the misconceptions, the looks, the whispers, the bigotry and the way their disabilities are viewed by others.

By now you should have guessed that the project entails photographing individuals with disabilities and the disability is not the focus, the joy and willpower that these individuals have and show is.

Have you ever looked upon the face of a para-Olympian the moment that he or she crosses the finish line? Their joy is contagious and often brings one to tears. These poignant images are what you should aim to portray.

Conducting a photographic project around these marvelous individuals is nothing short of worthy. It can lead you as a photographer to acquire a deeper understanding and warranted appreciation to what is like to go through life looking like some of these special individuals go through and experience.

Likewise, the finished project is fully ready to be submitted to many social, non profit publications, for grant purposes, to fund drive activities, book publishing and many more causes. With that said, it is up to the photographer to render the images in a caring and respectable fashion. Although I have never made a profit when involved in a similar project and have always given any profits to the organization, you can still not only do a worthwhile project but can often result in a profit.

Keep in mind that when conducting this project you will need to approach your subjects with a clear understand and willingness to open up to them and explain your reasons for the shoot. Be sure to get the required permission from those involved as well. It also helps if you can approach some nonprofit agencies and ask them to cooperate while you do the shoot, even if there is no financial gain for you at least you are opening the door to others so that they can get a better understanding of the life your subjects live.

No attempt whether intentional or unintentional shall be preset that would place and present your models in a disparaging way. It is a project that will help you grow as a human being, as a photographer and you will ,albeit in a small way, be making your subjects enjoy life a bit more but be also proud of who they are and how they look. This is what you should be aiming for and nothing less.

Use the same technical approach and attention to all photographic details as you would any other subject. Your techniques and skills will surely render great images, but these images will also carry the power of emotion, the triumph of the human spirit and will to overcome vicissitudes that other photos lack.

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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 2 comments

icmn91 profile image

icmn91 3 years ago from Australia

Very interesting reading. It's fantastic to see such emotion that photography can convey.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

icmn91: Thank you

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