If these adorable family images of a beautiful new mother, her precious baby, and adoringly handsome husband don’t make advertisers take notice and see the beauty and business logic in using disability inclusive images in their campaigns, we clearly have a need to start applying some pressure to convince them.
Disability Inclusion is the last frontier on the bandwagon to bring diversity and equality to our Media landscape. PhotoAbility.net has demonstrated this concept exceptionally, with their Photo Library, that there are many willing, beautiful, strong, able, and positive examples of models whose imagery could easily cross over to mainstream advertising. There should no longer be any question of why or how they should be incorporating models with disabilities into magazine covers, marketing materials, websites, online publications, and anywhere else you see photos illustrating what is good, wholesome, sexy, and human. They will even produce custom shoots for those who want to produce exclusive images for their brand or projects.
So, next time you open a website, buy a magazine, or contribute to the success of a company's brand or product, ask yourself first, then ask those who make the creative decisions: Where are people with disabilities being represented?
These images, taken of model Bridget by photographer Tom Kershaw, should be gracing the pages of any baby, parenting, motherhood, woman's magazine, or family oriented website, yet when have you ever seen anything like them? If you have, share your examples on PhotoAbility.net's Facebook or Twitter pages, as we would love to promote those who do choose to showcase models with disabilities of all ages. We received one comment from a woman who has a disability and works within the advertising industry who shared this link: http://www.adweek.com/search/apachesolr_search/disability. While there has been some notable strides made in television advertising, it is evident that much more can and should be done.
Stock images are used by creatives in advertising, design, and publishing communities to tell a story and bring life, beauty, and visual meaning and attractiveness to projects. Stock images of people with disabilities have historically been mostly sad, depressing, and based on a medical model of need and helplessness. They are most often seen, in contrast, to inspire those without disabilities by showing "hero images" that incite patronization and pitying. "Look at that poor, less than the able-bodied person doing something athletic or being happy, and thus inspiring me that my life is not so bad." This messaging is referred to as "Disability Porn", and is best known to be brought to life by the late Australian comedian Stella Young. More on this concept can be explored in this article.
Lifestyle images that do not elicit sympathy or "inspiration" but show real people, living real lives that are just like everyone else are what these photographs represent, and is how we need to be depicted to move forward and create an atmosphere of acceptance and true inclusion.
See Bridget's full Family Photoshoot Gallery on PhotoAbility.net, and be sure to share and support the effort, time, and talent of the models and the photographers who founded this groundbreaking work, and let them know that it was well worth their investment.
Let's all work to make #disabilityInclusiveImagery the new trend as #WeAreMarketAble!
Kudos to the photographer Tom Kershaw, who leads the way in showing the style, form and substance in showcasing the joy of motherhood in this crafted lifestyle shoot. It not only captures the love surrounding a newborn child but it also subtly showcases the home adaptations for the wheelchair using mother.
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