Marcie Schein Randall

Special Needs Portraiture

PHOTOGRAPHER’S FOCUS: SPECIAL NEEDS

I wish I had a nice photo of my child.

This was the topic of conversation in a support group for parents of adult children with autism.

The mom leading the group just happens to follow me on Facebook, and she really likes my work. She was more than happy to make a referral to the parents who attended that day.

A few weeks later I received a phone call from one of these moms.

It has been years since her 41 year old son Robby had photos done.  It’s always been just too difficult to get good photos of him, she said; because of his autism, he has difficulty with eye contact and he becomes anxious when he is asked to do something new.

Never fear, I said, I got you covered.

We booked a detailed intake call. The key to photographing people with autism and other disabilities is learning as much as I can about the individuals so I can apply a personalized approach. 

When you book a session with me, I won’t just send you a questionnaire to complete. We will have a conversation. I want to know everything!

I’ll ask you things like:

“What’s his personality like?” 

“What makes her smile?”

“How does he communicate?”

“Does she have a favorite item or toy she likes to hold?”

“How does he react to the camera?”

These are just a few examples of what we will talk about as we plan your photo session.

Photo Day Was Finally Here

The day finally came around for our photo session. As expected, Mom came prepared. She brought her son Robby’s favorite snack and magazines, and she promised him his favorites for dinner when the shoot was over.

Mom knew of a local office park with lots of greenery and some picnic tables, so we agreed on that location for our photo shoot. During our intake conversation, I had encouraged her to be ready to appear with her son in some of the photos, and they both arrived looking model-ready! 

We took photos in a variety of spots with a variety of “poses.”  I did not make demands of him; I let him be himself. Robby stood by a tree with his hands in his pockets, he sat at a picnic table with his magazine open in front of him, and he took a walk with Mom by his side. As predicted, we got the very best smiles when Mom gave Robby some playful tickles- she knew that would be the key!

It was a team effort. Mom and I worked together to create some beautiful images.

Now What?

Once she saw the happy photos of her son, Mom was thrilled. She couldn’t wait to display them on the walls of her home and in Robby’s bedroom at his group home.

And she was especially excited to give them as gifts at the upcoming family reunion.

Part of my concierge service is to guide my clients through the entire process of creating and displaying beautiful images of their loved ones. This includes helping them to decide what to do with their favorites from the photo session.

Mom wanted an affordable gift that she could give out to family, since they don’t get to see Robby very often, and they certainly don’t have any updated photos of him. 

Thankfully, displaying photos does not have to be intimidating or expensive.  Together over Zoom, we reviewed the gallery and selected the perfect images for the right items. 

Mom picked out her favorites for framing in her home and on Robby’s nightstand, and then together we chose a sweet image for a 2 inch x 2 inch square magnet to give out to her family.

Magnets are one of my favorite gifts to recommend to clients. They are useful, fun, and can be ordered in sets of multiples. Instead of being filed away in a drawer, Robby’s relatives now have his handsome face right on their refrigerator so they can think about him all the time.

My greatest reward was the elated email I got after the family reunion:

My family loved the photo magnets.  It was a beautiful day in every way.”

How cool is that?

If you’re still waiting to get those beautiful photos of your loved one with special needs, I’m here to help. Book your fall session now to get those special memories and holiday gifts for the family.

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