It’s every photographer’s truest intent to capture an image that unfolds the story of the subject. To click an image that acts as an ode to what the eyes see. Over the years I have shot portraits, fashion, lifestyle, corporate, and many other images and pieces of art. All beautiful in their shape and form. But last month a call from a common friend got me interested in people with disabilities. And it was an eye-opener.
As surreal as it might sound, the shoot that I had with these Down Syndrome and disabled kids and adults was truly one of the most beautiful experiences I have lived so far. You always read stories on the internet about photographers living the time of their life through their shoots until you have personally experienced it.
The setting was simple, the shoot details were finalized and all I wished to do was capture their precious smiles through the lens of my camera. The idea that I had for this shoot was well planned, click the people in their truest form and let them be – THEM. But, what surprised me was the participation of the people there. It was amazing how they posed and shared their emotions. There were the coy ones who took some time to warm up and the wannabe movie stars that just gave me some of the best captures I had done in my career.
Photography is the art of telling stories. It is a language that speaks without words and touches your artistic sense. Seeing these children and adults suffering from down syndrome and yet living their life to the fullest, inspired me to use my art as a channel of their strength. The feeling of joy of being there acted as a bridge in letting me use my photography to depict what these people have so bravely overcome. That moment, all I could think of how grateful I was of my art and the beauty it can bring out.
Overall, I photographed 8 of them and got to know their story. I will feature each of them and what I learned, so you know these stars as well.
Kean Seng also known as Mr. Bean, is a 37 year old down syndrome adult. He is sometimes quiet, sometimes super naughty and hyper but when needed is always lending a hand to help others. He was under his elder brother’s care until 2018 who found it difficult with his own daily challenges and could no longer take care of Kean Seng.
Joshua is 21 years old adult with learning difficulties. He comes from a family where his father is an elderly 75 year old man who at his age does not have the ability to take care of Joshua.
Jia Qi is the cute and shy one. She was coy in front of the camera and kept looking away until she felt confident enough to face me. But after a few pictures she did show me her happy and friendly side. She is 24 years old with down syndrome. Her parents divorced when she was very young. Her father is unable to provide her sufficient love and care so she was turned in to the center in 2012
Boon Seong (we call him Didi) is a 17 year old boy with learning difficulties. His father passed away when he was very young. He was then placed under his relative’s care before he came to the center in 2014
Milo is a 5 year old boy diagnosed with Global Development Delay and leg development disorder. Due to family issues he was sent to IQ70Plus by his aunt.
He was very cheerful throughout the shoot and made so many expressions that we all had a good laugh. The staff says that he loves to ask a lot of questions.
Ah Keong is a 28 year old down syndrome adult. After his parents divorced he was placed under the care of his grandmother for a few years. As his grandmother no longer has the energy to take care of him he was sent to the center. Fun fact: He is a very very talented dancer.
Zi Li is the most talkative girl in IQ70 Plus. She is a 25-year-old girl with learning disabilities. She comes from a single mother. Her mother does not have the financial ability and time to take care of this super active girl and she has been here since 2019.
Down Syndrome awareness is important for all of us. People there, deserve nothing but the purest form of love and positivity and you can give them JUST THAT! So, if you ever get a chance, do visit a centre close to you
Eric Jude – www.ericjude.photography
Eric fell in love with photography when working on fashion campaigns at Grey Advertising. Living and working as a Creative Director across 4 countries he has pursued his dreams to always have great pictures in his arsenal. His love for portraiture, fashion and corporate work has allowed him to capture compelling images of people in all walks of life.
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