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Lamar Francois, photographer and long-term Autism East Midlands supporter, discusses how he has incorporated his special interests into a career path to develop a career in this weeks blog. 

I’m a photographer who works specialising in photographing people candidly, along with their built environment – being on the autism spectrum I’ve been making photographs since 2009 when I was an undergraduate studying Physics at the University of Nottingham.

Within my work I am fundraising for Autism East Midlands through donating sales from my annual Calendar of Nottingham (https://www.picturedbylamar.co.uk/product/nottingham-calendar-2021/) which I make and sell throughout selected retailers but I also through online sales of a series of limited edition prints (https://www.picturedbylamar.co.uk/product-category/visions-of-nottingham-limited-editions/) which showcase landmarks of my home city of Nottingham.

Autism and special interests

Special interests for those on the spectrum like myself, really help us to find predictability and stability in a world, which is constantly changing, and also one in which cultures and processes are not always modelled to be friendly to those on the spectrum especially from a sensory aspect.

One of my special interests -and perhaps my main special interest for a while is photography –  the reason why I became fascinated with photography was that I really enjoyed the ability to experiment with what I saw – through experimenting with different lenses with apertures and focal lengths, as well with how the camera would interpret light.

Also with experimenting with working with what the camera captured at the time and editing to be able to emphasize particular aspects – and I really enjoyed the open-ended nature of the work I’ve done. From a technical point of view I enjoy the medium – having studied Physics at university I was able to really understand how the technology of digital photography really worked and helped me make sense of things.

How was I able to incorporate interests into a career path and begin to develop a career?

I want to say that it is quite possible to be able to incorporate a strong interest into a job and wider career – the key is to be able to find a link between passions and interests – and what might be useful to others, be them employers, or customers and clients you find being self employed.

It is probably likely there would need to be compromise between one’s interests and what is commercially valued. For example, the photography I make for myself is very exploratory and open-ended where I focus on my own expression. In the work I do I use those skills commercially telling the stories of people and their environment and helping them showcase themselves, and sometimes this can be different in terms of working to a brief and needing to respond quickly to commercial opportunities which arise.