Photographer: Tod V. Kelso
Location: Portland, OR
This shoot was ambitious from the start. There were so many concepts in the brilliantly creative mind of photographer Tod Kelso on how to shoot this 29 year-old, Puerto Rican, beauty and model born with Spina Bifida.
Ines had a passion of her own for being a part of the image library featuring models with disabilities. “I would like to be part of this exciting project, to project that people with disabilities can be independent in any place or country. I want to be able to show that the world.”
[slideshow_deploy id=’2641’]She finds living in Portland, Oregon liberating. “I’m able to express myself independently. This state is very accessible. Oregon’s culture, beautiful scenery, accessibility, and lifestyle are something that should be advertised to the world. I feel I’m the person to do so.”
Ines loves to travel and is not afraid of a challenge. She has travelled to Canada, Spain, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. She wants to use this medium “to show that people with disability can travel and this is a culture with no barriers.”
One of the biggest challenges was narrowing down the shoots, ideas, and locations. Oregon is so diverse with its coastal and mountain areas, beautiful scenery, and local activities that are all readily accessible. However, with all the conflicting schedules, transportation, and deadlines, not all the planned shoots were accomplished. It was hard to get permission to shoot in some locations and it was tricky to do the photo shoot in public areas without people getting in the shot.
While Ines enjoyed the attention of being a model, she mostly “enjoyed being a part of a project that showcases people with disabilities, and showing the positive side of having a disability and that life is as (or more) enjoyable and active for a person with a disability. I also enjoyed that, in a way, I got to present the state of Oregon as a very accessible one.”
“I hope these images are used for educational purposes all around the world. To educate people everywhere and start breaking stereotypes. Especially the one that people with a disability encounter mainly which is that we are not happy or active. I think these images open people’s minds and also educate them.”
Ines would like to do other shoots where she can showcase more of the scenery of Oregon and being active while doing other things such as rock climbing or hiking.
For Tod, some of the challenges faced were ones that Ines is accustomed to in everyday life: “Access limitations, access limitations and more access limitations! In a world of ADA requirements, there are a lot of places that still don’t cater to the handicapped. I was surprised to find that the Willamette River was difficult to access although the river is tide influenced which has ramps changing angles as the tide changes. I don’t have any answers as to fixing the ramps, but Ines was a real trooper and we worked around pedestrian, boat, and car traffic to get our shots.”
It was all worth it in the end as the shoots produced some amazing images that have sold, including one that was selected for a major marketing campaign! More than that, Tod felt he gained personally from being a part of the experience: “I think we all have an internal desire to be a part of something good and I was rewarded with a great model that made the shoots very rewarding. I myself have an arthritic disability and the shoot helped me forget about my own issues for a while.”
However, there was something he may not have expected: “Ines is mobile, very mobile and I had a difficult time keeping up with her!”
What is his hope for this work of promoting more inclusion?
“If we all stopped for 10 seconds and thought truthfully about ourselves, I think we would all come up with disabled aspects within our own lives. My hope for being a part of the shoot is to highlight the equality we all share, and to get beyond the outward disabilities some of us have more than others. We are all broken a bit, but if we all act as part of the “village”, we are helping to lift some up while others help to lift us up.”
Any advice for models and photographers?
Be patient! A good shoot takes a bit more time. I can usually tell when it’s been a good shoot as I’m tired and very sore.
See Ines and Tod’s full gallery
Originally posted by PhotoAbility.net: http://photoability.net/community/index.php/behind-the-scenes/14-life-is-good-in-portland
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