Photographing families with special needs has truly been a blessing and I have learnt some very helpful lessons that have changed the way I prepare for all my phootgraphy sessions. I hope these few tips shared below will help you to have the same wonderful experiences I have had capturing children and their families with special needs.
CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
1. Get to know your client’s special needs before the session
It is really important that you get to know and understand your client’s special needs before your session. An initial consulation gives you an opportunity to get to know your client and find out more about them and their family.
2. Use a reward system to connect and encourage children with special needs
A reward system works with all children and particularly children with special needs. It is important to mention this to the parents in your initial consultation. Rewards gives you an extra toll to use while photographing children. These rewards can vary with each child so it is essential that the choice of reward is discussed with the parent.
You may find that the agreed reward might even come out during the session if you find you are battling to connect with the child. A reward that you ca use to play and interact with gain the trust of a child.
3. Allow extra time for children with special needs
All family sessions can become challenging due to many different aspects. Sometimes it can just depend on the mood of the child. With special needs, it helpful to have allocated extra time. It helps to slow down as a photographer and allow the child to get to know you. Giving the child a few extra breaks is also very helpful. You want to document the child being themselves. These are the images your clients are truly going to cherish.
4. It is helpful for mum and dad to understand the session flow
Parents are usually quite nervous about a photo session especially parents with children with special needs. This really helps with understanding the process and enjoying the shoot.
5. Know when to end the session
Family sessions with special needs run the same as any other family session. However, you will come across a photo session where nothing is working. You can try every trick up your sleeve, be as prepared as possible but sometimes it can all appear impossible. You cannot force a child to have photos taken.
Sometimes, it is best to just reschedule and try again. It happens. Another day is a different day. It does not mean that it is doomed to fail. It just means, today is not the right day. You will be glad you did not push.
6. Choosing the best location for a child with special needs
Look for a location based on the child’s special needs. If your little client has sensory issues, then a quiet location would be best. Look for a place that is safe and has space for a child to explore.
Consider the child’s personality. If your little client is shy, don’t go for a busy park but maybe a private, quiet space where the child can relax and enjoy.