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Choosing a Professional Photographer for Special Needs Children | Picture Perfect | giggle Blogs
March 2, 2011

Choosing a Professional Photographer for a Child with Special Needs

I’ve been photographing children now for 20 years, and some of my best shoots have been with special needs children. I find it particularly rewarding to work with kids who have challenges not experienced by most children. They are amazing little souls, who are sometimes far wiser than their years would suggest.  Many have developed amazing gifts in the face of debilitating conditions.  I have worked with many children on the autism spectrum, children in wheel chairs and children undergoing cancer treatment.  I have also worked with other milder conditions such as strabismus and skin disorders.

Here are my key tips:

  • Please choose your photographer wisely!  Be sure to carefully interview the photographer you are thinking about booking with.  Be sure that they specialize in working with children and that they are experienced in working with special needs children.  Child photographers are far more likely to be patient in the face of challenges that may arise in the shoot simply because they are used to it!  You should be able to tell on the phone or in a face to face meeting whether they will approach the shoot with patience and love. 
  • Share your child’s challenges thoroughly with the photographer when you are interviewing them.  You will be able to gauge the photographer’s personality better when you do this and you will avoid the element of surprise at the shoot.  The photographer needs to get mentally and physically ready to handle the additional challenges of the shoot.  For instance, many children on the autism spectrum are very sensitive to studio flash.  It is best that the photographer knows far in advance that this may be an issue so that she can plan on shooting using just natural light.  If wheelchairs or hospital equipment will necessarily be part of the photo, it is far better if the photographer knows this in advance.  Sometimes, additional time is required at the shoot. 
  • The more planning the pro can do, the better the outcome and the more enjoyable the experience for your child.

Note: I’m excited to announce that I’m opening a new Classic Kids studio in Hinsdale, Illinois!

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  1. Holly Hess says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I actually specialize in photographing kids with special needs. I meet with parents ahead of time and then I have a get to meet the kids session where we play and I see their abilities first hand. Portrait sessions are stressful for so many kids and it’s my job to make sure they are having fun while getting wonderful images. Choose wisely and make sure your photographer knows what they are doing. Good luck and thanks for writing this!

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