Behind the scenes at a Mosaic photoshoot

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 09.34.14We spoke to two of the people who took part in the shoot for the Mosaic piece on sex and disability, Suz and Steve, to find out why they got involved, what the day was like and what they hope their participation will achieve. Read more on how we commissioned the photographs.

Suz

Why did you decide to take part in the shoot?

I was forwarded a link by a friend, explaining the concept of the article and asking if I would be interested in taking part. After discussing it with my family, I decided that I would. I had never done anything like this before and felt it would be a good experience.

I thought that the concept of the shoot was an interesting one and a way to show able-bodied people that disability should not and does not affect a person’s sexuality. Maarten and Sophie, the photographers, talked through their ideas but made it perfectly clear that if there was anything I didn’t feel comfortable doing then I didn’t have to.

Why did you choose to pose without your prosthetic?

We were asked to stand, sit or lay in certain positions but encouraged to move about and pose in ways that we felt were appropriate and comfortable. I choose to pose without my prosthetic because I felt the purpose of the shoot was based around the sensual aspect of sexuality and disability. In my private life I would not wear my prosthetic at those times, so I felt it could give a false, harsher image of what was trying to be portrayed.

What do you think is the biggest misconception non-disabled people have about disabled people and sex?

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about disabled people is that we are unable to think for ourselves. People avoid eye contact and talking to you, preferring to talk to the person with you – especially if you are in a wheelchair. We are able to think for ourselves and make decisions. We have the same needs and desires as everyone else, we may just need to be a bit more creative at times to achieve them.

How do you think people will respond to the shoot?

I hope that people will respond positively to the article, although I am sure that some people will find the images uncomfortable. It is only recently that disabilities have become more acceptable and not something to be ashamed of or hidden from view.

I think that people are starting to tire of the ‘perfect’ models we have had drummed in to us for the last few decades. We are becoming more used to plus-size models now, although I feel we are some way off from seeing disabled models become widely accepted. Public opinion and tastes can take quite a while to catch up with reality.

Steve

Why did you decide to take part in the shoot?

I first heard about the shoot through an amputee forum on the internet. Maarten [the photographer] had asked the group admin to allow him to post an ad asking for amputees to be photographed for an upcoming article on sex and sexuality and the disabled.

It is fair to say that any such requests are instantly rejected by many amputees, as they assume they come from a ‘devotee’, which is the name given to a person that has a fetish for amputees.

It was the comments to the post that first drew my attention. Having read all the info posted I asked Maarten to supply me with more details, which he did, and asked if I would be happy to take part. After thinking it over, I thought ‘Why not?’ There were two main reasons. First, it was a new experience for me, never having done a photoshoot before. Second, sex and disability is a subject that is rarely addressed. Many seem to think that if you’re disabled in any way that you don’t have sex nor any interest or desire for sex. So if it helps people to realise that they are wrong on that, it has to be a good thing. The shoot itself was great fun, and I really enjoyed it.

What do you think is the biggest misconception non-disabled people have about disabled people and sex?

Hopefully those reading the article and looking at the pictures will realise that sex is a part of all our lives and whatever the disability you have, it does play a part.

Why don’t we see more disabled models in the mass media? 

We are slowly beginning to see disabled models and actors in mainstream events but nowhere near enough yet. Hopefully with articles like this confronting issues head on, things will improve and more opportunities will open up for the disabled. I for one would jump at the chance to do it again.