A SELF-TAUGHT photographer has said he doesn’t want his autism to be seen as a disability, but as a superpower instead.

Joe James, 37, said: “I’m trying to show the world what people with autism can do.

“Einstein, Turing and Dan Aykroyd, these are people who made the world a better place and used their autism to do this.

“I look at it as a positive but sometimes society looks at it as a negative.”

Horsham resident Joe was only diagnosed with autism five years ago.

He said: “All my life I felt like I was put in a corner and isolated. For 32 years I felt confused, it was like being the Lego piece in a Meccano set.”

Six months ago, Joe decided to learn more about photography.

He said: “I love taking pictures and I’ve always done it on my phone, but I had never thought of sharing it.

“I also like walking, so thought I should try taking some pictures from my walks and my daughter said, ‘Daddy, these are really good, why don’t you put them on Instagram?’.”

Joe’s daughter showed him the social media platform, which he said provided him with an end goal, so he began to learn more about photography.

He said: “I’m one of those people who, if I want to get good at something, I can put my mind to it and make progress very quickly, that’s my superpower.

“I looked at thousands of photographs as I have an eidetic [vivid] memory, so the images are in a file in my head and I can compare them to things I see in person such as similar angles or lighting.”

Joe’s favourite places to take photographs are Brighton beach, Devil’s Dyke and Cissbury Ring.

He started posting his pictures to community notice boards on Facebook as well as his own Facebook page, Joe James Autistic Photography, about three weeks ago and said he has received a “brilliant” response.

Joe said: “People come up to me and say, ‘Joe, you don’t look autistic’.

“They have a stereotype in their mind of what to expect and I want to break that.

“Everybody in the world is different from one another, the problem is autistic people are put in a box, and this box is put in the attic because people find it difficult to deal with. I’m getting out of that box.”

Since starting to post his pictures on social media, Joe has been contacted by several people about displaying and discussing his work.

But, he said this is not his primary motivation.

Joe said: “I have no monetary need. I want to make a difference.

“People who see my pictures and read my words can go out into the world, meet someone with autism and have a different point of view of them.”

Joe also revealed the secret behind his photography.

He said: “The reason my pictures are beautiful is because the scene was beautiful when I was there. I’m surrounded by beauty, how can that not make me feel amazing?”

He also revealed he was not alone in his venture as he takes his dog, Milo, with him on photography trips.

Joe said: “Milo joins me on all my trips and is my unofficial therapy dog.

“He is a sheepadoodle and great for cuddles when I’m down.”