The Skin We’re In took a new turn when Elise began collaborating with Zebedee Management, an inclusive talent agency representing models with disabilities. Through them Elise made a portrait series with amputees, and another about children with Down’s Syndrome. For this shoot, the latest instalment in the project, Zebedee provided models with four rare conditions: Vitiligo, Albinism, Piebaldism and Benign Hypopigmentation. Here, as elsewhere in the project, Elise was keen to photograph her subjects the same way she would any other model. “It’s important that you don’t focus on the difference. That’s already there. So no artifice, no crazy fashion statements, minimal make-up. The image is made by them being who they are.” 

Elise is optimistic that “things are changing”. The industry is increasingly open to older models, models of different sizes and skin tones, she says, and we’re seeing high profile campaigns for both designer brands and high street chains that feature models with disabilities. “The problem is we’re so used to looking away,” she adds, recalling a conversation with one of the models in her earlier series, a double amputee, who told her about how it felt when people turned their heads when they saw her in the street. “With these pictures, people can take the time to look and to ask questions. She said to me: you made me feel like I am there. I exist.”

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