Mom and Daughter With Down Syndrome Direct Each Other in Beautiful Photography Project

National   |   Lauren Enriquez   |   Jan 12, 2014   |   7:44PM   |   Washington, DC

As a photographer, Emer Gillespie is used to having control over her camera and the projects she undertakes in her profession. But, in a moment of brilliance, Emer decided to see what it would be like to let her young daughter call the shots instead, and what has developed from this notion is a peek into the imagination of a little girl.

Since her now 11-year-old daughter, Laoisha, was about five years old, Emer has collaborated with her in an ongoing project in which Emer relinquishes control of the camera and allows Laoisha to dictate the nature of the shoots.

The project, called Picture You, Picture Me, has been well-received, and exhibited all over the world.

Emer explains that, at their core, each photo shoot is really a play session, thanks to the curiosity and lightheartedness of her daughter:

 Naturally evolving from my daughter’s curiosity and urge to stand on the other side of the camera, she has taken more and more control of the camera and of me. Directing each other through role-play and instructions, we decide how the other stands, which direction to face and even facial expressions. These are playful interactions where the camera becomes an instrument of amusement and our photo shoots become play sessions.

While Laoisha is the director, Emer is the editor. She relays the role she plays in creating the compilation that Picture You, Picture Me has become:

Photography, by its nature as a visual medium, only shows the surface of what are complex relationships and subjective realities. There is a desire to examine and document subtle relationships in contemporary, re-envisioned family life.  As a participant-observer, these images are my own examination of appearance and existence, perception and thought through the visual exploration of my modern family.

Art is a common form of expression for many people, and individuals with Down Syndrome are no exception to this fact. Some are working to ensure that the artistic contribution of individuals with Down Syndrome do not go unnoticed.

For example, last year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an exception to their norm of not accepting gifts by gratefully receiving a beautiful painting that a woman with Down Syndrome created for the couple’s infant son.