black and white photo showing diversity with a woman sitting on a chair wearing a black outfit and medical equipment

“There’s Beauty and Magic in Diversity” Kaitlyn’s Story: Vancouver Boudoir Photographer

If we only see or hear from one kind of person, especially one who we don’t identify with, our knowledge and understanding becomes skewed. Our needs don’t get met on a personal level. We’re all human and a lot of our essential makeup is the same, but there’s beauty and magic in diversity. It’s like seeing one colour versus a rainbow.

Friends, meet the lovely Kaitlyn! This photo shoot was a wonderful experience seeing beautiful Kaitlyn recognizing her own beauty and magic (her words) – which is exactly why I do this. While my goal is to empower you, I get so inspired by these empowering moments capturing you and your incredible essence. Being chosen to capture Kaitlyn’s disability and diversity was truly an honour for me. Together we co-created part of her legacy in these photos and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to do this.

Kaitlyn, what made you want to have a photoshoot with Michele at Mateus Studios?

I felt like I needed to take a risk and put my situation out there, for those who don’t have or never got the chance. I identify as someone who is disabled, because I live off a life-saving device to treat Pulmonary Hypertension (or “Squishy Lung Syndrome” as I like to call it.

We have barely skimmed the surface of diversity in media, but I am seeing people of colour, people of different body shapes and sizes, our queer community, and people who are neurodiverse, being welcomed and represented. I want to see that for tubes, pumps and bags, and feel related to, spoken to, and acknowledged.

I want to be a voice and a champion for others, and Michele has given me that platform.

How did you feel in preparation for your portrait experience?

I had a vision for how this could go, and what it could start for me, but life doesn’t really stop to take a breath so the reality didn’t actually hit until I was in the makeup chair. Then I started putting my outfits on and really felt like we were about to change the game.

Why is representation important to you?

If we only see or hear from one kind of person, especially one who we don’t identify with, our knowledge and understanding becomes skewed. Our needs don’t get met on a personal level. We’re all human and a lot of our essential makeup is the same, but there’s beauty and magic in diversity. It’s like seeing one colour versus a rainbow.

What do you want people to know about living with a disability &/or diversity?

Everyone has their own challenges, but gosh I would love it if my top issue was saving up to buy a house, or where should I go traveling next. 

Instead, I think about “Will I need a new set of lungs when I stop responding to medication?” or more often “I hope when I use a disability parking space or bus seat that people don’t tell me I don’t deserve to be there because I’m not in a wheelchair.”

Not every disability or accessibility need is the same. It’s about equity, and that’s something a lot of people are still struggling to learn.

As you know, we are all about smashing beauty standards here at Mateus Studios, how do you feel your photos do this?

I’ve been told to smile more by male coworkers at old jobs, and I think that was a lot of what I was raised on – sit still, look pretty, don’t talk too much, but when you do you should always be happy and bubbly. But that’s not real, and not very me.

In some of my photos, you can see the challenge in my eyes and face, you can see tired and deconstructed positions in my body, and who’s to say that toughness, that scarred skin, and that raw underdog vibe is not pretty or worth being photographed?

How did you feel when you first saw your portraits at your Reveal?

I spent most of the meeting in shock, that something as cool as this would ever happen to someone like me, but that’s also part of the reason why I did it, because I shouldn’t feel shocked. It should feel normal, it should feel accessible, it should feel like it totally happens to people like me.

black and white image of woman showing diversity while holding flowers in one hand and medical equipment in the other hand

What impact have your photos made on you?

Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, week or whatever, I don’t like to look at myself. I don’t like to acknowledge my body or my diseased looking spots, I don’t take pictures of myself or post on social media.

But these photos make me proud to show my body. They remind me of my autonomy, and that I’m not just the person who bruises after every needle, or patient number X1234 at the pharmacy, I’m not just skin at the other end of a set of tubes and machines. I can be a model, and I can hold power.

woman in lingerie showing diversity with disability and holding medical equipment

What excites you about having your photos shared with others?

I have a few hopes about how people will react to these. I’m sure some will think “Oh, what’s that thing coming out of her chest” “or “what’s that mask for? Oh I never heard of that” but maybe some will think “that’s weird, and actually kinda cool” or even “hey, i have one of those too.”

What advice can you offer to someone on the fence about doing a portrait experience with Mateus Studios?

The best part of this experience was working with the beautiful, genuine soul that is Michele. People can take photos every day, but to form a connection with someone over something very personal and vulnerable is extremely special.

No amount of nerves or self consciousness stops her from being able to pull a muse forward from inside of you.


Oh Kaitlyn, it was my absolute pleasure getting to capture you in my studio. Thank you for sharing your story, being vulnerable and educating that a disability and diversity are beautiful and magical. You are amazing and I’m so grateful to know you and your magic.

All bodies are good bodies and yours is welcome at Mateus Studios too. If you’d like to capture your essence through photography, please book a Discovery Call and I’m excited to chat with you about your vision.

Photos shared with permission.

Let’s Make
Magic Together!

I Look Forward To Having
You In My Vancouver Boudoir
And Portrait Studio!

Michele Mateus is an award winning Vancouver Boudoir and Women’s Portrait Photographer. Serving Coquitlam, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Langley, Abbotsford, Squamish, Burnaby, Surrey, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, New Westminster and the Great Vancouver area.

Thanks For Reading!

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