Untitled-2The Overcast and the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (COD-NL) are partnering up to build a bank of stock photos that will change the way we think about disabilities.

As it stands, stock photos of people with physical and mental health disabilities are not local, do not depict inclusion, and oddly, they often feature models faking depression or paralysis, etc., instead of people actually living with disabilities.

Existing stock photos also tend to be bleak, like a sad-looking child wearing a hearing aid, instead of showcasing vibrant, active citizens carrying out their daily activities from playing sports to grabbing their groceries, or running their business. There is also a lack of diversity in the disabilities depicted in stock photos: while you can find “man with crutches,” you’d be hard pressed to find “drummer with cerebral palsy.”

MusicNL's "Male Artist of the Year" plays through the joint pain and swelling of psoriatic arthritis. (Photo by Joel Upshall for The Overcast).

MusicNL’s “Male Artist of the Year” plays through the joint pain and swelling of psoriatic arthritis. (Photo by Joel Upshall for The Overcast).

For local photographers, in addition to the media coverage and cash prizes ($3000 for first; $1500 for runner-up; $500 for 3rd place), this contest will give them a chance to showcase their style and get their name out there, among new audiences, as there will be an art gallery exhibition of the top photos in mid-December.

Through the stock photo contest, and December’s exhibit of the best submissions, we will turn the process of building the Coalition’s stock photo library into something that will help change way we think about “disabilities” and those in our community living with them. Awareness and education can help us build a more enlightened, inclusive, accessible city for all of us.

If you don’t know of anyone with a disability willing to be your subject/model, we have assembled some volunteers for your photoshoots: email: submissions@theovercast.ca for a directory of volunteer models. To get a better idea of what we’re looking for, visit changingthefaceofbeauty.com.

Photographers will agree that all submitted photos are cleared for use in the Coalition’s stock library, free of charge. Photos will be judged by The Overcast’s editor and photographer (Chad Pelley and Joel Upshall) and visual artist and former Eastern Edge Gallery Director, Mary MacDonald. Criteria evaluated will include: inclusive theme, artistic quality and style of the portrait, and local flavour (recognizable settings, etc).