Marcie Schein Randall

Special Needs Portraiture

What is a Special Needs Portrait Photographer?

And why do you need one?

Did you see my recent announcement? The one that says I am scaling down my photography to a very particular niche?

Photographing individuals with special needs and disabilities, and all that comes with it, is what I do best.

I’ve been doing a lot of networking for my business and meeting lots of people lately. Often, the greeting goes like this:

“Nice to meet you, Marcie. What do you do?”

“I’m a special needs portrait photographer.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that was a thing.”

Quite frankly, neither did I, until I realized it is exactly what I’ve been doing!

Several years ago, I photographed a family whose daughter had Rett Syndrome. She used a wheelchair and needed support to sit up. She was nonverbal. She was slow to respond to directions and requests for eye contact or a smile. She was such a sweetheart. We made it work. We got beautiful photos! 

“This,” my friend said, “is what you should be doing. You should be photographing people with special needs.”

A light bulb immediately went off- yes! Doing this type of work feels natural to me! But why?

I thought about all I have to offer. Why do I specifically photograph people with disabilities? Why do I feel so strongly about it? Why do I want to share it.

Photographing people with special needs brings together so many of the skills I’ve developed over the years, and it can make a substantial impact on them and their families.

So…

Who am I to be your photographer?

  • I’m a talented photographer with certification in digital photography from Boston University, certification in Special Needs Photography, and a Master’s degree in Child Development. 
  • I have 15+ years of professional experience working with people of all ages across a range of disabilities. I also take pride in having provided support to families and caregivers of those with diverse needs.
  • Most importantly, I am the mom of a medically complex disabled teen and have first hand experience that gives me the ability to see and capture the beauty in every individual.

What do I do that is unique?

  • I provide a concierge photography service tailored to your needs as my client.
  • Together, we talk about details and plan the right type of photo shoot experience for your child, student, or family.
  • I create personalized, flexible, fun photo sessions to get you the images you’ve always wanted.

Where do we hold our photo session?

  • I go where you need me to be- where is your special person most comfortable? At home? A local park? Where is their “happy place?”
  • For school and camp, I come to your campus or where the students and campers are familiar with their environment and can be ready on their own time.
  • Your photo session can be indoors or outdoors at a location that is both convenient for you and provides the best setting for photos.

When do we schedule our photo shoot?

  • Life with a disabled child can be unpredictable, and I will do my best to work around that.
  • I typically hold sessions in the Spring, Summer, and Fall so we can be comfortable outdoors, and Wintertime as well if that is what suits you. 
  • I arrive when you are ready for me- what day of the week, and what time of day, works best for your special person?

Why is Special Needs Portraiture my niche?

  • I personally know how difficult it can be to get a great photo of someone who has trouble following instructions or making eye contact, works hard at sitting or standing independently, and has multiple medical devices that might be a distraction.
  • I also know how disappointing it can be to have so few photos of your special person that really capture their spark, and…
  • I know how thrilling and gratifying it is when someone does get an amazing photo of my own son- see above!
  • Believe it or not, I am just as thrilled when I get an amazing photo of your kids, and I want you to feel it too.
  • A professional photo lets you, parents and program staff, get out from behind the camera. We will collaborate- you can assist by giving physical support and getting attention if that is the goal, or by bringing a favorite toy or snack that you know will elicit a smile or a feeling of contentment. You can even be in the photo (for once!) and we can capture the special connection among all of you. And don’t worry, you’ll look great!

What do I get out of it?

  • I get to do something special for parents and caregivers who give so much of themselves to provide a happy, healthy, safe life for the ones who depend on them.

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