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How one photographer is sharing a strong message through their photos

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Kaylah Joelle Baker

Photographer Lewis Cook has one message to share through their work, and it’s a simple yet important one, “be nice to autistic people”.

After being diagnosed with autism, Lewis felt a big shift in their perspective of what they wanted to do with their photography, telling Southbank News that they now wanted “to do research on autism and do it through photography, because it’s such an invisible thing”.

After being diagnosed with autism, Lewis felt a big shift in their perspective of what they wanted to do with their photography, telling Southbank News that they now wanted “to do research on autism and do it through photography, because it’s such an invisible thing”.

The idea of going down the photography path was nothing new to Lewis, whose parents were both photographers, but seeing what the industry was like, and how quickly digital photography was changing it, did make Lewis wary of going down the same path.

But, thanks to the confirmation from friends, Lewis realised that maybe photography was something that they should be pursuing.

“I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane, and I felt that if you don’t study arts when moving to Melbourne, what else are you to do with your life,” Lewis said.

“So, I looked around for some photography degrees and I really liked the idea of PSC as a tiny university as it would be harder to fall through the cracks and become just another number.”

Now in their final year at Photography Studies College (PSC), it seems Lewis made the right choice.

“The teachers have an amazing wealth of knowledge and industry skills, and I love the sense of community they bring because they go above and beyond,” Lewis said.

“My immediate shock when I joined was they really spoke about how it didn’t matter what you shot on, it’s about the photos you produce.”

This advice and support encouraged Lewis to really think deeper about what impact they want their photos to have.

Lewis’ latest work is titled, “i like your personality”, thanks! it’s a disorder!, and it is a way for Lewis to creatively educate people about autism.

“I really wanted it to be very tongue in cheek, and not serious. It’s fun and funny, and a bit absurdist, and shows that while people with autism do funny and interesting things, they are still people,” Lewis said.

“They are really funny people and I wanted to bring acceptance to that. People can get really bullied, and it’s a serious topic that needs to be talked about more, and I find the best way to get people accepting of it is through humour.”

Following this recent work, Lewis has big plans for the future, and hopes to delve deeper into this topic.

“I am working on my next photo book for my folio project for this year and it’s called due to personal reasons i will be making microwave noises for the next three to five business days,” Lewis said.

“It’s about self-stimulation and the special and niche interests that people with autism have a wealth of knowledge in, and I want to celebrate that side of things.”

Beyond the course, Lewis said they also want to create a box set of photo books that “take you by surprise when you open it”.

“Everything will be a bright colour and all the pictures will be weird. It’ll be an absurd piece of media,” Lewis added.

But knowing Lewis’ previous work and goals for their photography, it’ll be absurd in the most intriguing way possible. •

instagram.com/alewisious

website: alewisio.us

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