Getting a professional family portrait done is no easy task for any family. Throw a child with a diagnosis of autism and a clueless photographer in the mix and the stress level goes up exponentially. Many families that have a child with special needs have given up on professional photography because of how difficult it is for them and their child. They don’t want to put their child through the stress of it or risk them having an embarrassing moment with an unknown photographer who doesn’t understand their child’s needs and personality.
Don’t give up. There are photographers out there who get it. Here’s how you can find one:
1. Look for someone who specializes in photographing children with special needs. Hard to find, perhaps, but not impossible! Special Kids Photography of America is an organization that trains photographers to understand how to work with a family to provide the best experience possible, regardless of any diagnosis. A search of their directory of certified photographers should point you in the right direction! Another way to find a photographer is to ask local support organizations what photographers they use for events and who they might recommend.
2. Your photographer should conduct an in-depth interview with you before your session over the phone or in-person. This is the most important part to having a successful photography session and it cannot be omitted. If the first contact you have with your photographer is going to be at the session, don’t walk… run. You are setting yourself up for a very difficult session!
3. Your photographer should be willing to make reasonable accommodations. Some examples of this are, eliminating flash, photographing your child in a place that is familiar or comfortable to them, photographing your child with a telephoto lens so as to disrupt them as little as possible, or meeting your child prior to the session to establish trust. If the photographer seems uncomfortable with this, move on.
Most of all, don’t stress about the photography session! It should be a fun event documenting a moment in the life of your family. A good photographer will have everything well in hand and you can relax. Next week I will be posting about how to prepare for a photography session when your child has special needs.