People With Down Syndrome Pose as Music Icons in Rockin’ Photo Series

Everybody has an inner rockstar.

Elvis 03
Elvis, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS

Photographers Wendy Zook, Sherri Harnisch and Nicole Starr worked with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to highlight just that in people with Down syndrome.

The photographers met up in New York City on Dec. 7 and 8 for a photo shoot. They were met with a team of makeup artists, hair stylists and more than 50 models ranging in age from 11 weeks old to 50 years old.

The models were assigned a music icon and then photographed in a way that evoked their inner rockstar.

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Elvis Costello, by Wendy Zook for NDSS
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Elvis Costello, by Wendy Zook for NDSS

Some of the photos will be turned into recreations of famous album covers that will be used as posters at the NDSS Spring Gala, the organization’s biggest fundraiser event of the year, held at the B.B. King Blues Club in New York City in March.

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Usher, by Wendy Zook for NDSS
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Usher, by Wendy Zook for NDSS

Both Zook and Harnisch have children with Down syndrome, and Starr is close with Zook’s children. All three photographers agree the shoot was a labor of love.

“It was such a joy, pleasure, honor and privilege to be a part of this amazing photo project,” Harnisch told The Mighty in an email. “Our family has advocated on behalf of legislative issues effecting people with Down syndrome on Capitol Hill several times as part of the NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington. NDSS has also empowered and equipped us to get involved on the state level. It felt good to have this opportunity to volunteer and give back in this capacity.”

nicole starr photography ndss elton john
Elton John, by Nicole Starr for NDSS

“For me it was really special on a personal and professional level,” Zook told The Mighty. “This really hit close to home and tugged at the heart strings a few times… it was so upliftng.”

Diana Ross 01
Diana Ross, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS

“I want people to look at these images and smile,” Harnisch said. “It’s my hope that hearts are a little happier after seeing the joy and pride on the faces of our fabulous models, all of whom did an outstanding job working the camera.”

Marky Mark 01
Marky Mark, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS
Adele 01
Adele, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS

“I would love to have people look at these photos and walk away either with a more positive outlook on Down syndrome or special needs in general,” Zook told The Mighty. “I hope it brings joy and comfort, but I also hope that it will provide a more positive reminder of the great potential there is for all these individuals with special needs.”

See more of the photos from the Rockin’ NDSS Studios shoot below: 

Kelly Clarkson 01
Kelly Clarkson, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS
nicole starr photography ndss bob dylan
Bob Dylan, by Nicole Starr for NDSS
nicole starr photography ndss tina turner
Tina Turner, by Nicole Starr for NDSS
Joan Jet 02
Joan Jet, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS
nicole starr photography ndss KISS
KISS, by Nicole Starr for NDSS
nicole starr photography ndss KISS 2 (1)
KISS, by Nicole Starr for NDSS
Taylor Swift 03
Taylor Swift, by Sherri Harnisch for NDSS
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Elvis, by Wendy Zook for NDSS
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Elvis, by Wendy Zook for NDSS
nicole starr photography ndss madonna
Madonna, by Nicole Starr for NDSS

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