Using photography to challenge people’s stereotypes

Guest post from Elle Jepson, a photography student at Middlesex University in London.

Four photos of Elle's brother, with difference facial expressionsI think it’s very important to capture people with disabilities and mental health issues in a way that shows it’s only a small part of them, not entirely who they are.

Having had two profoundly autistic brothers and a best friend with schizophrenia means I’ve often battled with prejudice. When I was younger, just being related to two people as profoundly disabled as my brothers, was enough to be belittled and mocked – and I wasn’t even the person dealing with the disability.

These experiences have shown me that people have such a set idea of what it means to be disabled, influenced by what they see in the media and in things like art and photography.

Four photos of Elle's other brotherMy new project is called ‘Identity’, and it’s about how people are boxed into a stereotype once people have found out a person has a disability, and my aim is to take pictures where you can’t tell if the person in the pictures is disabled or not because it’s not about that, it’s about who the person is aside from that.

Basically my aim is to show in portraits that there is more to a person than what they may be diagnosed as, if that makes sense. I feel this project is one way I can help change the bias surrounding disability.

If you’d like to get involved with the Identity project you can email Elle at ellejepson@yahoo.co.uk. See more of Elle’s photos on her blog.

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