If you know me, you know I am passionate about photographing people with disabilities.

The other day in a business networking group, we were asked what obligations or thoughts about our businesses we have “released” this year, as 2023 comes to an end. I knew right away what my answer would be…

“If you know me,” I said, “you know I do not do well with competition.”

I realized, in this moment, that I have “released” my “fear of competition.”

In fact, I think I am actually inviting it.

Oh my gosh, what am I doing??

I’ll start at the beginning…

A client introduced me to Humankind Casting. Their mission is to reflect diversity in storytelling, and part of their tagline is Every Body Belongs.

Humankind Casting teamed up with an organization called Changing the Face of Beauty, an organization that promotes equal representation of people with disabilities in all media.

The project: See Me in 2023. As you will see on their website, “Changing the Face of Beauty is challenging the disability community and brands to come together and photograph at minimum 500 people with disabilities around the world, providing them with professional headshots and empowering them to push for representation.” 

And Yours Truly is joining the party!

I was honored to be invited as one of the photographers for this upcoming clinic. And really excited- it’s one of those projects I’ve only dreamed about being involved in. Really, really cool!

But wait, there’s more…

I am now preparing to lead a workshop- me!- to teach other photographers (OMG!) about working with people with disabilities! 

Wait, what? You want me to teach?

This is SCARY! And EXCITING! And did I mention SCARY?

I have not done anything like this before. I’m a photographer. Just look at my Pinterest, or my website! See? Photos!

OK, Breathe, You’ll be fine.

Once I digested this incredible opportunity, I realized, I can do this. And, I have a couple of photographer friends who can help me. So I asked, and they both said yes!

My Team

Betty has a daughter who is disabled, and Missy is an OT by day, working mostly with autistic students. We have an hour to present to a group of photographers (from our professional photographers association), and then over the next 6 hours all of us will provide professional headshots for the aspiring models who have registered for the clinic.

Of course I am trying to recruit as many of my son’s friends as I can to register for headshots! I’d love to sign him up as well, but I’ll have to wait for the next one.

Back to my idea of “creating competition”

My fear of competition is one of the reasons I love my niche, because there are very few photographers who specialize in working with disabled individuals. This is the one area of photography where I don’t have that infamous “imposter syndrome.” I know I am good at it. I don’t question my competence. I don’t get nervous. My style is my style, and if people want that, they book me.

That being said, there are a lot more people with disabilities than I alone can photograph. But the whole reason I do this is to get our special needs loved ones out of the shadows and into the limelight (or should I say SUNlight)! It breaks my heart when I meet moms who have just given up on the idea of beautiful images of their disabled children: they never look good, it’s too much work to prepare, the schedule is too tight with medical appointments…the list of excuses is never-ending.

That’s not ok. Everyone deserves to have beautiful photos. Everyone.

Senior photo of a young lady with Down Syndrome

So, putting my fragile ego aside, I am absolutely thrilled beyond belief to be sharing my expertise with other photographers. At some point, I hope every photographer will be comfortable working with any individual who shows up for the camera.

Stay tuned, I will tell you about our planning session as we prepare to present this incredible workshop!

And hey, if you are interested in a professional headshot for your special needs loved one,

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