Monday, December 9, 2013

Taking Pictures with Special Needs Children

Recently, my sister got married. As anyone knows, that means lots of family pictures. On my side of the family, we had two 7 year olds, a 5 years old, and a 9 month old. Photographing multiple children can be difficult. The fact that my daughter had a broken leg and my son has Asperger's syndrome threw in a whole extra level of difficulty for the photographers.
The whole weekend was a bit overwhelming for my son -- out of his typical routine, large crowds, loud noises. Between all of that and him not liking to have his actions micro managed, he was not very responsive to following the photographers directions.

Many of the group shots had to be moved over to where he was standing because he wouldn't move. It was not uncommon for him to not look at the camera. He doesn't like to make eye contact in general and looking at the camera was a bit much to ask. We often had to let him sit out and have a sensory break watching whale videos on our phones with headphones on (something he finds calming).

My daughter, though not special needs, had special circumstances with her broken leg. It was wet and muddy, so she could not go off the path easily to take pictures where there were too many puddles or chances of slipping. We also had to debate having the cast and crutches in the shots. We were lucky that the photographer was good working with kids in general and was very accommodating for both of my children.

I recently found a blog post from Jill Hotujec, a photographer and Occupational Therapist, outlining her tips for taking photos of a special needs child. She wrote a list of great tips, which I plan to use when taking photos of my children as well as share with any professional photographer we may use in the future.

A few of the tips she offers include the photographer knowing the child's favorite interests as well as any specific difficulties they may have. Allowing the child to have sensory breaks and making sure the child knows what is happening and what to expect next. Click here to read the full article.

Rachel H. left her camera at her mother's house after Thanksgiving. She's going into withdrawals not being able to take random pictures of her two kids.

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