Photography for Special Needs Children

As many know, I am the mother of a very special needs child. Her name is Caroline, she has a rare chromosome disorder and she is approaching 6 years old!!! Now that is an amazing thing, considering the doctors and so-called "experts" predicted she would be gone long time ago. But she is happy and healthy and still going strong. And she is quite the sweetie-pie!!!!

Caroline faces many issues. She is non-verbal, she is non-mobile (other than rolling herself around) and she is 100% tube fed. She does not respond at all to direction. And, as a photographer, it makes it just a bit tougher to get those perfect shots. I can't just tell her stand-up, sit here, smile! It is up to me to get her in the right position and get her to even look in my direction. And, since she doesn't really "do" much, I really need to be creative to get some nice shots.

This week I decided to do a little photo session with Caroline. We had some nice light coming in our sliding glass door, so I put her in a chair and started snapping. Now, even though she can't crawl/walk etc, she does sit very well (although she usually isn't very happy about it).

The first few shots looked something like this:


Caroline hangs her head in protest, quickly starts wimpering and makes it known that she is not happy about this whole thing (LOL!). Yup, she is smarter than most people think.

But, as a mom and a photographer, I am starting to get a little more creative. Calling her name does nothing, BUUUUUT.....start belting out a rendition of "Happy Birthday Dear Caroline" and she stops and quickly gets - Happy!


And the smiling starts, and she starts to lift her head to look in my direction. But then I get a better idea to get her to sit straight and look at me. I scootched (is that a real word?? LOL) her back on the chair and crossed her legs. She sat taller, she had a harder time hanging her head, and THEN I started again with the "Happy Birthday Dear Caroline"!

And we get an absolutely adorable shot....FINALLY!!!


Wow, in my opinion, she also really looks like quite the BIG girl too!!!

(I do want to add, as a photographer, I am not completely happy with the photo. I love everything about Caroline, except the cluttered background! If I was really working on getting a "wall worthy" portrait, I would definitely make sure you couldn't see all our stuff in the background!!!)

And you always know Caroline is happy if her little tongue is cute!!!

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Of course, crazy sister had to have her turn too...


Yes, that IS the daily attire of our wacky 3 year old!

I took about a hundred photos of Caroline to get just a few fairly good ones. But that is par for the course, she isn't typical, I can't "direct" her in the typical sense and I have to really try to think of creative ways to capture her essence.

If you, or someone you know, has a special needs child, please consider me as your photographer. From personal experience, I found that typical photographers have trouble getting really nice photos of children like Caroline because special needs children don't often respond to the "typical" prompts. And they often can't sit or lie or stand in the typical poses or with the typical props. However, as a mom to such a child, I completely understand and am willing to take the time needed and be as flexible and creative as possible to get really nice pictures of your "special" and beautiful child.