A Horsham father has discovered a new way of combating struggles with mental health - by taking out his camera and ‘bottling happiness’.
Joe James has been using his ‘autistic superpowers’ to bring joy to himself and others through the power of photography.
The 37-year-old says he has spent many years suffering with stress and anxiety. However, since getting behind the camera and snapping beauty sites across the county he has gained a new-found joy as well as bringing happiness to others around him.
He said: “My photography is me going out wrapping things up in my camera and reviewing them when I get back home. They are bottled happiness.”
Joe only got into photography in September.
He explained he initially started taking pictures on his phone whilst he was out walking his Sheepadoodle Milo. After receiving huge praise for his photos he went a bought his first DSLR camera.
He said: “It was a game changer. I watched some Youtube videos and used my autistic superpowers of research to learn everything I could about taking pictures.”
The security supervisor then started combining his love of walking and running with his new passion.
He ventured around many beauty sites in Sussex using his skills to capture moments on his travels.
He said: “I was hooked to that feeling of pure joy, being able to bring my memories and happy moments on my walks home with me. It felt like a warm shower on a cold morning.”
Joe then started posting his photos on social media, in particular on the Memories of Horsham Facebook page.
He received huge praise for his images with one piece entitled Pony Heaven - taken at his favourite place Cissbury Ring - becoming an instant hit.
Joe said he had suffered with anxiety and stress throughout most of his life and taking up photography had helped him combat those issues as well as helping him with his autism.
He said he felt his ‘autistic superpowers’ gave him a unique perspective when capturing his images and he wanted to use his pictures to raise awareness of the condition.
He said: “The response was amazing. People messaged me about their autism, their families autism and their friends autism. People said my photos gave them inspiration and thanked me for bringing attention to autism and sharing my story and photos.
“I want to break the stereotype of autism and stop people thinking that it’s just a disability because I believe it gives me a unique perspective that I can show through my photos to help people understand better.”
“I never expected it and was overjoyed to discover my photos were making people so happy.”
He added: “I just hope they are making people happy and that people are enjoying them. I will keep taking pictures until my fingers fall off.”
Joe is set to host an exhibition showcasing his artwork at Horsham Museum from July 18 until August 29. Any profits made from sales on the day will go towards an autism charity.
He is also set to host an exhibition at Amberly Museum from May 25 to 27.
To find out more and see his artwork visit www.autisticphotography.co.uk