From the beginning, I was very personally involved. As I myself suffer from my own disability, I know how each day it can be hard to feel equal and understand how this affects self-confidence and drive.
The whole process of research behind these photographs began when I started looking into the The Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 (ESA). Although I do not suffer a physical difference, disability still emotionally affects me. The shared and widely agreed definition of disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or affects their activity on a day to day. The aim for this body of work then was to engage with two beautiful intelligent girls, who - on a day to day basis - conquer the world by being who they are. I wanted to a make a fuss of them. So it was clear, I had to rally all the conventions, techniques and 'knacks' learned and a passed on in the professional practices of studio portraiture, whether for film, advertising, or art, to make them feel utterly special within a photoshoot environment.
I suffer from dyslexia - I know what school is like with a disability. I met these girls three years ago and since then they have continued to inspire me and the people around them with all their achievements. One is a Special Olympics medallist and the other is a fantastic artist. So, we went into the studio with the intention to draw on iconic images of women whose cultural status was amplified by the photography used to portray them as powerfully glamourous. Of course, with these girls I wanted to shine a light on their youth and include evidence of their disabilities in a very contemporary way. Representing their disabilities as a problem was not the starting point for the shoot, nor even the point of the shoot. Instead, I wanted to convey their disability visually so as to create a confident feeling, a sense that these girls are not dis-advantaged, just the opposite. Often people with disabilities don’t feel that they are seen in relation to anything other than their disability and cannot expect to think about personal beauty and uniqueness of character in their appearance.
Throughout the process of organising and doing the shoots, I made sure to keep communication very open with the girls to make sure they felt comfortable. They picked their own outfits, giving them control - it was their shoot and their moment. My use of lighting was very much influenced by Bob Willoughby's black and white studio photographs especially of Audrey Hepburn. I wanted the images to represent the girls as strong as if they themselves were famous icons and role models for others. They don't let the disability define their lives and this powerful stance needs to be recognised. Of course, I had to research power and representations of the figure and powerful postures, posing techniques and how it has a huge effect on the way we view people as having authority and control of things outside of themselves.
The opening up of gestures and expression is used to broadcast confidence - in a way it is intimidating, but it also sometimes can be refreshing. I wanted the girls to speak through the image rather than let their disability take away from their inner and outer beauty. I never thought I would have the opportunity to work and collaborate with these two beautiful young women but I was very lucky to have that time with them to work on this project and discussing an issue which is so important to me.
I would like to thank the two beautiful ladies you see in the images because they inspire me and I know will go on to inspire others and to do great things.
Behan, C. (2017) Something Beautiful, Available at:
I have been working in the photography sector for the last ten years. I am mainly studio-based, whether for personal or commercial projects. My aim is to specialise in photographing people and corporate photography in a style that is colourful and energetic, perhaps something different to the usual formal style of this imagery. I believe that great creativity is often a team effort, so I like to work closely with the clients to create a client-friendly atmosphere.