Thu 28 May 2009
What kind of image portrays care in the UK? I have seen hundreds of brochures from local authorities, charities and private providers of care which depict elderly and disabled people representing a different reality to what can be a very difficult ‘way of life’. Care represents many facets of life, but I doubt that what I call the ‘Florida’ look of older people that you find in some north American image libraries would resonate with an older person getting by on a pittance and living on the 18th floor of a dark, dismal inner-city high-rise block. And yes, it is true that some disabled people are hot at wheelchair basketball and tennis (and we have pictures of the latter on our library), but I would wager that for most disabled people in the UK, getting through the minutiae of life, washing, dressing, logistics takes up a lot of their time and energy.
Yes, we want positive images of disability, but we also want realistic images. People do not aspire to a lifestyle where they require care, rather it is a reality they are forced to come to terms with. And that can be very difficult. Imagine things you do in private (eg bathing) being carried out for you by a carer. Imagine having to be helped by a partner to engage in sexual activity. Imagine going to a restaurant where another person has to feed you. At Care Images, we show care as it is, real warts and all. When we work with an elderly model and ask the lady what she likes doing and she answers rather tamely that she likes a little tipple and she has a bottle hidden away, we shoot the scene. Our strapline is ‘representing the community’, and it’s surely the case that a bottle of gin is more accurate than a facelift in Florida.