Models: Phylicia Jade and daughter Mianna Jones
Photographer: Jennifer Frankfurter
Our Model was set to do an artsy, seductive and edgy shoot with a world class photographer in Los Angeles. But when she ran out of the finances and time to get there from Chicago, we were lucky enough to find a replacement theme and photographer that made all our dreams come true. This shoot revealed that not only is Phylicia smoking hot and sultry, but she has a sweet, lovely and maternal side as the mommy of a very previous little “mini me” angel Mianna.
Our new Photographer was Jennifer Frankfurter of Evanston, Illinois, who thought shooting this concept was a creative challenge. She had been following the Sundance Channel’s “Push Girls and wrote “I've been keeping track of some of their photo shoots as the photographer does a fantastic job of setting up 4 wheelchairs so that every woman looks present and beautiful.”
Jennifer contacted us initially after finding our site. She had worked with people with disabilities for many years and was now moving on to do photography. “I am thinking that it would be a great opportunity for me to find models and split the profits with them so we would both benefit while also positively representing people with disabilities.” Since that is exactly our mission, we felt she would be perfect for the assignment.
The concept was brilliantly simple…just shoot the models in their everyday lives, doing the things they would do naturally. She was worried her rambunctious daughter would never sit still but our family photographer pro was able to capture a sweet, compliant and helpful little girl who spent the whole day doing activities they would normally do together.
Jennifer drove an hour to our models home and, as a Mother herself, was well prepared to make this shoot a success with images that so few have captured: A mommy in a wheelchair—single handedly raising a 6 year old daughter. Good luck finding THAT on a typical stock image library.
Phylicia, who was injured in a car accident 7 years ago, has an aspiration to become a Pharmacist and her plans include eventually relocating to LA. She has many friends on wheels there for support and finds the climate and the terrain more agreeable.
The shoot features images of the mother sending the daughter off to school and kissing her goodbye, reading bedtime stories, having breakfast at the kitchen table, making cupcakes in the kitchen, and Phylicia working at her home computer station.
Q & A with Photographer Jennifer Frankfurter
What was the biggest challenge of the shoot?
I had two big challenges. The first challenge was the small space in the house and the darkness. I was pretty dependent on my flash making natural lighting a challenge. The second challenge was that my goal in my photography is to show the person, not the disability. I had to really think about my shots so that I could show the wheelchair and the disability in a positive light, so that people would be able to see the disability AND the person. I had to move from my comfort level of taking the photos up close focusing on faces, to panning back so people could see the whole picture and the wheelchair.
What do you enjoy most about being able to be a part of this project?
I love being able to take a picture of the person, not the disability. To portray people with disabilities in a positive light and showing off who they really are as individuals.
What is your hope for how these images could be used to promote a more Inclusive World?
People think that just because someone has a disability, they are very different from people who do not have a disability, but they aren't. They are moms, kids, and professionals doing the same exact things that everyone else is doing; working, loving, learning, and playing. I love that I can portray that in a picture.
What would you do differently?
If my model lived closer, I would probably have come to see the space first so I could plan my lighting, and bring a wider lens, or plan for a different shoot so that we could use natural lighting.