Neil is Everywhere - But Nobody Knows His Name
Okay, I don't know his name. I call him Neil, but I should call him Eddie Everywhere - at some point, this young man posed for a set of stock art photographs, and consequently his image is EVERYWHERE. It's on flyers and brochures and websites and leaflets and in online advertising.
The reason I'm fascinated by Neil is that he has become, inadvertently, the 'face of Down Syndrome'. Without even trying. He is probably sixty by now, or dead. I look at his image and wonder if he was paid the same as other models, if he gave permission, if he was employed in a business role or knew how to use a computer or was just dressed up for a photo shoot. I wonder if he had a career as a model, or if his mother knew the photographer. And I wonder if the intention was to represent a businessman - because his image is catalogued under 'Down Syndrome' and 'disability', but not 'office' or 'businessman'.
Don't get me wrong - I like that Neil is portrayed as a regular guy in an office. Let's forget that Photo.com have filed him tidily away into a disability category. But when I crank his image into Google Image Search - to find images that are visually similar - I find that Neil's photograph is used only by disability organisations or in disability related websites. Nowhere does Neil appear in a 'business' sense, or as a visual representative of an office worker. A beautiful example of seeing the disability rather than the person - or their role.
I'd like to find Neil. The photographer for the stock shoot is George Doyle and I've emailed Photos.com to ask them the model's name. I want to learn Neil's story and his name, and find out more about him.
Neil is everywhere, but nobody knows his name. It says something about people with disability, doesn't it?