At the end of the school year I got to (yes- I GOT to, because it’s my favorite thing to do) photograph students at a local special education program. My son Harry’s school, actually. I photographed most of the students at The Education Cooperative last Fall, but some new students have joined this collaborative program since then. There were also some children who were absent for that first School Photo Day, and other kids and parents just wanted a retake.
One of the young ladies I photographed is a new student in my son’s class, and it was so good to finally meet her! This was a tough one. She was pretty tired, because she had just had a seizure a few minutes before. In the first several shots her eyes were closed…ah, a familiar scene. It looked a lot like the images I typically get of my own son, who also has seizures and often sleeps afterwards. But that’s ok. I knew I would still get some beautiful images of her, even if she wasn’t going to smile for the camera. Smiling for the camera is not necessarily the goal. The goal for me is to capture beauty in a true representation of each individual I photograph. And I did. After a few minutes, she opened her eyes, and we were able to get acquainted. And we got some very sweet photos, too. Thanks, my friend!
Loving the Camera
I met another little girl who almost jumped into my arms when she saw me, she was truly so excited to have her photo taken- and we had never even met before! What a wonderful introduction! The smile never left her face, she was definitely comfortable in front of the camera. She was holding my hand, checking out my gear, and just so happy to be there. I love a challenge, but it’s always nice when my subject makes my job easy!
Haven’t we all seen a photograph of ourselves we wish we could retake? That’s what I love about Photo Make-Up Days- they present an opportunity for a do-over. Which is why I’m always happy to oblige. One particular young lady, whom I have photographed twice before, is a beautiful girl who usually has her head down and rarely makes eye contact. So I was actually really happy when her mom asked for retakes, because I was determined to keep trying until I got an image I knew we both would love.
I knew this young lady was not going to look at me when I called her by name, so it was really up to me to be constantly moving around, side to side and up and down, with my camera aimed at her beautiful face. Teachers might try to get her attention with songs or a toy, or even tickles. It’s my job to be there with my camera aimed in the right place at the right time and just keep clicking.
She came outside with her good classmate friend, who knows me, and I’m pretty sure she remembered me too. Surrounded by her people, she was so enthusiastic and happy to be there, and I caught the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen on her face. Yay!!!
Next up was my son’s classmate /our next door neighbor. Harry came outside with him, because they are buddies, and the teachers figured I would want to get some photos of him too since, well, he is my kid. Plus, so far, every student was having a great photo day, and we were on a roll, so why not?
When the camera or phone comes out, Harry covers his face or turns away, because, really, Mom, enough already! And this day was no different. He wanted no part of this activity. Can you tell?
So I left him alone. I chatted with his friend and began his photo session. This friend is always happy to see me. (Ahem, Harrison).
Once Harry noticed my attention was on someone else, and the smiles began creeping out, followed by giggling, and soon, all out belly laughing! Oh, darling, maybe you do want your photos done…?
I finished with Harry’s buddy and made my way over to my darling boy, and I got some of the best shots I have ever gotten of him! I was so excited! Smiling, laughing, dramatic poses, the works. And then he had a seizure…back to those damn seizures. Often, Harry’s seizures are preempted by smiles and giggles, so it was not a complete surprise, just a buzzkill. Still, I got AMAZING photos of him, so…would you like a glass of lemonade?
Wait for me!!!
I was halfway home and noticed a message from school. A young man whose mom did not actually request photos made it very clear that he wanted them! He is nonverbal, but he repeatedly pointed to his photo ID and signed that he wanted one. How could I say no to that? I turned around and when I got back to school I was greeted by a boy who I definitely photographed last Fall. He remembered me and wanted another session…ah, the ultimate compliment! Thanks for the props, dude. I had such a fun day. I have such a fun job!
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