Photographer: Bindu Kodwaney | iClicU Photography
Website link: www.iclicu.com
Model: Alana Wallace. Facebook
Alana Wallace is a wonder woman living the "sexiest" part of town in Chicago - The South Loop! She’s raised a handsome son, who is a doctor, and has the determination to build a life of health, meaning and spiritual positivity through her work as a dancer, actor, and businesswoman. (see her fantastic “CRIPMark cards” on PUSHLiving.com and her Facebook page Wheel Beauty.)
At the age of 5, Alana contracted polio which left her feeling different from friends and family. She fought to "fit in". She endured countless orthopedic surgeries throughout her young life. However, her worst pain came a few years ago when she lost her mother and aunt on same day. Then, a day after she buried her mom, she had to deal with an unexpected break-up with her significant other. It was all too much her. Alana considers this time, a period that "knocked her flat".
But this was not a woman who would stay down for long. Alana will turn 65 next year, and she is determined to make her mark on the world... and change perceptions of what a woman her age, with a disability can and will do! She wrote to PhotoAbility.net wanting to support the work of creating disability-inclusive imagery, and we got to work on recruiting the perfect photographer to capture the amazing spirit that jumped through our pages.
We searched high and low for the right photographer, and as soon as we came across Bindu’s portfolio in our email, we knew the stars were aligned — and frankly, we just felt fortunate that such an amazing, creative and commercial talent was able to work on this shoot.
We proceeded with brief introductions and a three-way call to discuss photoshoot themes and timelines. Alana offered wonderful ideas that would best capture her active and independent lifestyle as a woman living in a high-rise, and all the wonderful and accessible aspects of City Life for those who ROLL.
The call went incredibly well, as both women are high-level professionals, and respected each other’s time and talent.
We decided on multiple themes for the shoot:
Boxing and working out with a trainer was a novel concept and would make for “striking” photos. Alana's trainer lives in-building, and boxing is Alana’s favorite workout. “It gets me to the rest of it,” she says.
Glamour and fashion convey the message that Alana hasn’t lost interest in life. They show her soft side — strong but sexy!
Professional businesswoman depicts Alana in a world in which she is very comfortable: speaking and presenting to boards of directors on behalf of her dance troupe.
Having a toast with friends to demonstrate that folks with disabilities socialize and participate in fun activities together.
Tender moments with a male companion to show that I'm no different than anyone else who desires the love and tender attention of a mate.
The shoots were all completed in a single day, with exceptional production and planning by everyone involved.
Interview with Photographer Bindu Kodwaney and Model Alana Wallace:
What was the biggest challenge of the shoot?
Alana, the model, was so full of life and accomplished that there were endless concepts of our photoshoot. The biggest challenge was picking a few of those concepts and staying focused.
I agree with Bindu - staying focused was a challenge for me. Once I get into my creative mode my ideas take over, but sometimes the logistics of pulling it all off with time restraints becomes a problem.
What do you enjoy most about being able to be a part of this project?
My mother — a fashionable, outgoing, ultra-social, joy-of-the-party type — was disabled in an accident several years ago. She did not survive long, but had she stayed alive, she would have had a fighting spirit. My mother would have been an inspiration to people, teaching them never to give up. Being a part of the project reminded me of her “love your life” and positive attitude.
My other favorite part of the project was the boxing and fitness shoot I did with Alana. I am a fitness freak myself. Alana and I connected well due to this commonality, which led to a fun-filled photo session.
Of course, I enjoyed playing dress-up! The most rewarding aspect of this project for me was being able to be represented as a WHOLE person leading a FULL life -- as an artist, an entrepreneur, a health-conscious person, a loving friend, and a sexy sensational lady. It was so wonderful to work with Bindu - a photographer who totally made me feel comfortable in each theme setting. She got it and it was obvious how much she wanted each idea to be positively conveyed and captured.
What is your hope for how these images could be used to promote a more Inclusive World?
I come from India, where there is very little social and emotional support for people with disabilities. The US offers lot of facilities and makes it possible for people to live their lives to the fullest. I would like these pictures to be an inspiration and a source of education for people and governments of countries like India, showing them how a little help from society could improve the quality of life for many.
As with everything that I do - I hope these images help to dispel stereotypes about folks with disabilities. Advertisers need to know that we tap into every aspect of life! Thus, we are - consumers - mothers - role models - professionals - artists - friends - and YES lovers.
What would you do differently?
Nothing -- the shoot was perfect.
I would have put on my "tough girl face" more during my boxing segment. I love boxing so much that I was smiling too much and did not convey my "No Pain, No Gain" concept.
Any advice or comments you would like to provide to PA, our production team or models?
The PA team did an excellent job pairing the model and the photographer, and arranging a conference call to clarify our objectives. They trusted both the photographer and the model, and gave us the freedom to do our jobs.
Ditto to Bindu's comment! (The PA team did an excellent job pairing the model and the photographer, and arranging a conference call to clarify our objectives. They trusted both the photographer and the model, and gave us the freedom to do our jobs.)
Any interesting tidbits/stories about the shoot?
I made some new connections in the photo and video world because of this shoot.
I didn't expect for us to laugh so much together! I couldn't believe we got everything completed in the allotted time. When can we do this again?