Photographer Ian Treherne, who’s 95% blind, has spent his career fighting to have the same opportunities as able-bodied people. After taking part in the inclusive shoot for our new advertising campaign, he’s excited about a future where for disabled people, anything is possible.
Ian describes his experience working with us as “the first time I feel like I’m able to participate in a world that does include me.” Ian was also thrilled to work with award-winning photographer Rankin on the shoot, but all this is only the latest step in his pursuit of a lifelong passion for the arts.
Stirring up emotions
As a child, Ian loved drawing, capturing shadows, highlights and contrast in his sketches. Later, he found a new way to express his creative side.
“I took my first photo on a film camera when I was 20,” Ian says. “It was just a very typical picture of a sunset, but I remember looking at that picture and I remember the feeling I got from it. I realised that with photography, you feel something.”
Throughout his career as a photographer, Ian’s tried to capture that same emotion through his images. But due to his disability, that hasn’t always been easy.
A turning point
Ian was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa Usher Syndrome Type 2. As well as being profoundly deaf, Ian has ‘tunnel vision’, meaning what he sees is completely black except for two little windows in the centre.
For a long time, Ian tried to hide his disability from the world. The pressure of this proved too much, and Ian had a breakdown that would have a huge impact on his life.
“I stopped going out, stopped connecting with people,” says Ian. “There was a point where I was going to give up photography.
“But in that moment, I had a voice inside of me saying, ‘There’s still something good you can do with your photography,’” he says. “That really was the turning point.”
Today, Ian uses his talent to shine a light on society, including disability. But when we invited him to work on our advertising campaign, he was excited to do something a little different…
An unbelievable achievement
Our campaign, ‘The Human Touch’, features real clients and shows why they’re at the heart of everything we do. But in line with our responsible business strategy, we also made the campaign shoot an inclusive production, with a behind-the-scenes crew of people with different disabilities.
“I really, really wanted this job so much, because I knew that it was everything I’d been working towards for the last ten years,” Ian says. “When I finally did hear, ‘The job’s yours’, I was over the moon, ecstatic.”
Also involved in the shoot was award-winning photographer Rankin and his team, who mentored Ian throughout.
“To hear that Rankin was going to be on board, I couldn’t believe it,” says Ian. “It’s been such a great experience, and I’ve learned so much. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Ian enjoyed working with our clients and the wider production team, but being in an environment in which everyone was understanding of his needs? That was the human touch that mattered to him.
Starting a conversation
“The team may not have fully understood my condition, but everyone on the shoot had the basic idea that I was blind, and worked around it,” Ian says. “I just felt so at home. I hadn’t really felt that in a long time.”
Alongside the rest of our production crew, Ian played his part in making sure everyone felt comfortable. That included the people he photographed, such as our client Haley, who has cerebral palsy.
“Before I photographed Haley, I asked her parents how she communicates,” says Ian. “I didn’t want to assume anything, because she might not be able to hear, for example.
“I didn’t want to create that awkward social moment that happens to me and others with disabilities all the time, because it’s unnecessary. I’m always trying to remove it, so people don’t have to deal with it.”
For Ian, this has been an important moment in his career as a photographer. But he wants it to be something else as well: the start of an important conversation.
“I think there’s a lot of fear behind asking questions about disability, and it all comes down to what people have been taught,” Ian says. “Hopefully by doing things like this, we can show that disabled people are more than capable, and help to make changes so that everybody can be included.
“There’s a lot still to do, but I feel this is what my job really is,” he says. “I just want to make the world less complicated for the next generation of disabled people, so there’s hopefully a little bit more understanding. It’s possible, you know?”