Nicola Fry was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome just three years ago. Life has not always been easy for her, but she is a very talented photographer and as she explains this interest helps her relate to the world around her.
1. You only recently received an Asperger’s diagnosis have you found this has changed anything for you? For better or for worse?
When I got my diagnosis, I was so relieved because I had known there was something wrong for so long. I had learnt a little about autism so I knew that this was what I had, and it was getting someone to listen and understand me. It’s always been hard for me because people look at me and think wow you look and seem so normal you can’t have anything wrong with you, but they really don’t know and don’t understand what it is like. Even my own family don’t get it which was very hard for me to live with at first, but now i don’t really care so much. I have learnt and taught myself most things to get by in life. I have always had to do it all myself with no help – it’s been a struggle but I get there!
So getting my diagnoses made me feel better because it put a name to my issues and helps me to learn new ways to cope.
2. When did your interest in photography start and what do you most like about it?
I first started to like photography when i was about 11-12 I think. I don’t have a very good memory for my childhood but I think that was about the time. For Christmas I got my first camera and I just loved to take photos, so I just got better and better at it.
I love to photograph animals and landscapes which is great because you don’t need to interact with other humans for this, Nicky joked.
I also have a fascination with photographing people which is weird for me because communicating with people is never an easy thing for me. I am not really sure how to explain it, but I think it’s because I find most people interesting, confusing and intriguing that I want to photograph them and capture their feeling and emotions because I find them hard to deal with. I think I like to look at the photos and see the feeling and emotions and learn from them.
I also love photography because when I have to go to a social events that i have to go to and there is no way out of it I can hide behind my camera and this acts as a barrier for me so I don’t have to interact with people.
3. We enjoyed looking through your portfolio. Although you take all sorts of photographs you have said that you like to take photographs of individuals who are on the autism spectrum, why is that?
I like to photograph people on the autism spectrum because they are the most interesting people and the photographs tell so many stories. When I photograph people I don’t make them pose for the photo I like to take a photo of people being themselves these are the real photos and mean so much more. People with autism have that amazing expression on their faces and look so innocent and I just can’t stop taking photographs.
I also want to raise awareness of autism though photography, they say that images speak louder than words, just because we have autism does not mean that we are no good in this world. ’We are interesting and amazing people’ and I believe that some of the photos I have taken show these amazing and wonderful people.
4. We have spoken about some of the difficulties you face with setting up your photography as a business venture can you explain what you feel would help you overcome these difficulties?
I feel like I can’t really do it alone. It’s like I need a mentor or business be-friender that can help me do it. The main difficulty I have is believing in myself, that I am good enough so do it. Being a photographer means that you have to interact with the people you are going to have to work with. I find it hard to say to people what I need them to do so and it’s hard to give them ideas to pose for a session. For example, if I am doing a session with a new born baby I find it hard to suggest ideas for the sitting. I just like to take the photos I am no good at the rest so I sometime think ‘I should not be doing this’.
5. As you know we at Living Autism would like individuals with autism / Asperger’s to advertise their businesses on our website (something you suggested yourself in fact!), how do you feel we could best help with that?
Well I am not initially sure about this one. I think that maybe you can promote the people’s work and help them to get known, maybe you can set up and organise a autism business scheme or some venture or something that will help us to get started. What i was always looking for was not just for business and work, but for in life in general, was someone there to just give a helping hand when needed. I am sure a lot of other people with autism have an issue with asking for help and accepting it too.
Thank you Nicky for taking the time to offer us an insight into your life and work.