Coventry & Warwickshire

Disabled Photographers’ Society: 'I don't know what I'd do without photography'

Photo of an acrobat, titled "Hand Stand" - voted first in Advanced Open Projected and overall Best Projected Image Image copyright Paul Grant
Image caption Paul Grant snapped an acrobat at Beck Theatre in Hayes for his winning shot, titled Hand Stand

Disabled photographers have spoken about how their art has helped their mental health during an annual exhibition.

One member of the Disabled Photographers' Society (DPS) said photography was "my life".

Photos displayed in the show in Hatton in Warwickshire, ranging from breath-taking skylines to stunning nature shots, were judged by photographer Ray Spence.

He said photography could be "enjoyed by everyone", regardless of disability.

A photo of ducks titled "Duck Stampede" - voted first in Advanced Nature Print Image copyright Paul Grant
Image caption Paul Grant was also recognised for his photo "Duck Stampede"

One of the winners, Paul Grant, said be believed his disability helped people "drop their guard" and agree to be photographed.

Mr Grant, from West Drayton in west London, uses a wheelchair as a result of spondylosis, a condition in which spinal discs break down.

"I don't know what I'd do without photography," said Mr Grant, who was recognised for his images of an acrobat, an AC/DC tribute band and his "duck stampede".

Photo of a musician from the AC/DC tribute band, titled "Guitar man" - voted second in Advanced Open Projected Image copyright Paul Grant
Image caption "I love his expression," Mr Grant said of his photo Guitar Man, which captured an AC/DC tribute band
A photo of buildings titled "San Francisco impression" - voted first in Advanced Open Print and overall Best Print Image copyright Paul Adams
Image caption "San Francisco impression" was judged first in the Advanced Open Print section and overall Best Print

Fellow photographer Paul Franklin said he believed the hobby could help people's mental health.

Before an illness affected his mobility, Mr Franklin, from Hounslow, also in west London, said he enjoyed triathlons and marathons and so he "started photographing sports events but I got the hump with that because I couldn't take part".

"It's my life," he said. "Before mindfulness was ever a word photography was doing the same thing."

A photo of a boy named Eli - voted third in Advanced Open Print Image copyright Jeffrey Graham
Image caption Jeffrey Graham photographed grandson Eli waiting for friends at his seventh birthday party
A photo titled "Three tree frogs sitting on a log" - voted second in Advanced Nature Projected Image copyright Lee Sutton
Image caption Judge Ray Spence said photography can be "enjoyed by everyone"

"We see people struggle and we want to make it easier for them," Gillian Birbeck, who works for the DPS, said.

She got involved after her husband, Mike, a former RAF engineer, broke his back in a flying accident about 35 years ago.

For the past 18 years, she has helped members who needed adaptations such as wheelchair mounts and shoulder equipment.

Mr Birbeck has become president of the charity, which has grown to about 500 members across the UK.

The couple, from Taunton, have made "wonderful friendships and had lots of lovely opportunities" through the society, she said.

A photo of a pottery works at the side of a canal titled "Middleport Pottery with the Weeping Willows" - voted first in Preliminary Open Projected Image copyright Keith Parker
Image caption Keith Parker took this photo at Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent
A photo of hares titled "The Chase" - voted third in Advanced Nature Project Image copyright Brian Adam
Image caption The DPS marked its 50th anniversary last year

The photographs are on display in Northleigh House School in Hatton, Warwickshire.

All images subject to copyright.

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