Breaking barriers with photographs: Pictures taken by people with autism is focus of university project

Photographs taken by people with autism will be displayed at a university exhibition today as part of a student project. 

Elena Yang, who is studying at London Metropolitan University, is a photography student who worked closely with the Lambeth Autism Group to set up the project.

Elena funded the project, distributing disposable cameras to a group of volunteers with autism.

She said: “As fine art students we are forced to think and work in a different way.

“I just found it very interesting the way [they] see things in a different way from us.”

Elena Yang autism photography project ELENA
BRAINS BEHIND THE PROJECT: Photography student Elena Yang

Born and raised in Rome by Chinese parents, 26-year-old Elena moved to the UK to study fine art photography five years ago.

Lambeth Autism Group committee member, Jacqui Thomson, runs a social group for young adults with Asperger syndrome, autism or a social communication disorder.

She said: “What someone with autism thinks is important may not be important with other people –I think that would reflect itself in photographs.

“If someone took a photograph of something and you’re trying to find out why [they took it] and the importance behind it, that’s the most difficult think to find out.”

Elena Yang autism photography project fruitFRUITY! One exhibition piece focuses on tangerines and pomegranates

Ms Thomson, who has worked with people with autism for twenty years, explained the communication barrier can be hard to break through.

She said: “With autism, you often tell people things that are not exactly what they want to know.

”You have to really delve quite deeply with careful questioning and often offering choices to find out what they are actually wanting or desire.”

Elena Yang autism photography project flowers
QUIRKY: One photograph focuses on an arrangement with an angel 

Elena works with four other people who have all done various forms of art in the past.

She said: “I’m not looking for the best shot – I just want to show how they work with photography.

“I’m trying to see whether the communication barriers can be broken with photography rather than with words.”

Elena Yang autism photography project dog bed toys
PRETTY IN PINK: This pooch’s blanket and chew toys are picture perfect

The exhibition will take place from June 11 -20 at London Metropolitan University.

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