Unfortunately, when people see someone with Down syndrome, that’s often all they see. Worse still, to those unaffected by the chromosomal disorder, they can all look similar. Icelandic photographer Sigga Ella, however, felt determined to prove those people wrong. She asked dozens of people with Down syndrome to sit in the same plain green chair in front of the same floral backdrop.
The result was breathtaking. Looking at the portraits, you see each individual for who they are, not just what condition they have. They are each unique, and they all look different.
Ella’s work on this project actually began after she’d heard a discussion of the ethics behind prenatal tests to detect birth defects. The First and Foremost I Am photo series aims to do more than showcase the “beauty and diversity of humankind.” When looking at her 21 subjects — a number purposefully chosen to illustrate the extra copy of chromosome 21 that causes Down syndrome — who range in age from 9 months to 60 years old, Ella hopes it will make people see what we’d lose if we lived in a world without them.