MICHELLE Howson has been wheelchair-bound for 15 years, but that’s not stopped her pursuing a childhood dream.
Michelle, 40, suffers from hereditary spastic paraparisis, which means she cannot walk or stand up.
But she is excelling in her studies at Batley School of Art and is tipped for success when she finishes her photography degree next year.
“My disability makes things hard,” she said.
“It makes life a challenge, but I’m not the kind of person to let something like a disability stop me.
“I’ve got very high expectations for myself and I’m not satisfied unless I meet those expectations.”
Michelle grew up in Birstall and was interested in photography from an early age, picking up tips from her father who had set up a dark room in their bathroom.
“I was in the Caravan Club and we use to go away every weekend in the Yorkshire Dales,” she said. “The countryside was beautiful so I had lots and lots of inspiration.”
At 16 she went to Batley School of Art, but decided not to study photography and instead qualified as a graphic designer. She worked as a graphic designer for six years before her condition changed her life forever.
“When I first became disabled I had a lot to come to terms with,” she said.
“That was the first thing to get my head around – I had to become wheelchair-wise.”
Michelle eventually found work and new hobbies in wheelchair basketball and kayaking, but returned to her first love of photography three years ago, when she began a foundation degree in digital photography.
Since then she has taken photos and composed music for her own multimedia exhibition, The Hidden Planet, and last month was named Yorkshire student photographer of the year by the British Institute of Professional Photographers.
“I was absolutely blown away,” Michelle, of Milton Grove, Batley Carr, said.
“When I went back to college I expected to be middle-of-the-road, so I’ve completely surprised myself.”
To see Michelle’s work, visit papiliostudios.weebly.