Standing in the Spotlight: Lower Chittering photographer puts models with special needs in the picture


Jessica Murphy, Ella Hogan, Ben Whillas, Nicola Hogan, Yasmin Coyle, Maddie-Jo Flanagan, Gemma Power, Bianca Schmid, Jasmin Matthews and Lara Schmid. Picture: Jeremy Phillips/River Road Studios
Jessica Murphy, Ella Hogan, Ben Whillas, Nicola Hogan, Yasmin Coyle, Maddie-Jo Flanagan, Gemma Power, Bianca Schmid, Jasmin Matthews and Lara Schmid. Picture: Jeremy Phillips/River Road Studios

LOWER Chittering photographer Nicola Hogan will hold an exhibition showcasing models with special needs this month.

Hogan said her daughter Ella (17), who attends Belridge Education Support Centre in Beldon, was her inspiration for the Standing in the Spotlight exhibition at River Road Studios in Bayswater.

“She was diagnosed with autism at the age of three; she is an extremely positive person and has a can do attitude,” she said.

“She loves life and surrounds herself with lots of friends.”

The Nix Pix Photography owner said she wanted the exhibition to have a positive focus on the young models’ activities as they blend into community and stand in the spotlight.

Hogan said young people often came into the studio feeling shy and quiet, but left feeling like “supermodels”.

“My photo shoots are designed so the supermodel can relax and enjoy themselves in a private studio,” she said.

“If they don’t want to look at me that is just fine – eye contact can be hard for some models.

“There is no stress or pressure to be anything other than themselves.

“Sometimes it’s hard work (but) mostly it’s just pure fun, lots of laughs and a special time for the supermodels.

“I do it to see them smile and surprise them with their photo hanging on the wall on the opening night.

“The more special needs families I have met as my daughter has got older the more I wanted to photograph them and bring them into the spotlight.”

Nicola Hogan and her daughter Ella (17). Picture: Jeremy Phillips/River Road Studios

Hogan said Jeremy Phillips from River Road Studios had helped make her vision a reality, and would host the exhibition for the third year in a row on April 28.

Models Lara Schmid, who has 8p deletion trisomy 22q, and her sister Bianca, who has Phelan McDermid Syndrome, are “complete opposites” according to Hogan.

“Lara asks lots of questions and retains the information,” she said.

“Bianca can not talk at all – she communicates with some sign language signals.”

Another model Gemma Power, who has autism, runs her own micro-business with her mother.

“She makes cards – the business is called Gems Cards and she sells them at some local doctors and the Autism Association,” Hogan said.

There will be a gold coin entry fee to the exhibition, with proceeds going to Ocean Heroes Australia to help children on the autism spectrum learn to surf.

The photos will also be on display at the studio on Sunday, April 29.

What: Standing in the Spotlight photo exhibition
Who: Nix Pix Photography
Where: River Road Studios, 26 River Road, Bayswater
Opening night: 6-8pm on April 28
When: 11am-5pm on April 28 and 29

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