As a mother of a son with a severe learning disability and autism I fully appreciate the feeling of dread and anxiety that even the briefest thought of having a family photoshoot can bring on. My fear comes from having to appear like a ‘normal’ family – though of course we know there is no such thing! – for an hour or two in front of a photographer. Trying to keep my son engaged, focused and following instructions whilst knowing full well that he will do the exact opposite of what is being asked. My son also has an ‘interesting’ smile that he puts on when he is asked to smile for a photo – it usually forms the shape of grimace and, although his face is forward his eyes will be looking at anything but the camera! And then I remember I have my other two children to contend with and so its about at that point in my thought process I give up and think ‘well that’s just going to be a nightmare and horribly awkward – I’ll stick to with my iPhone snaps!’.
But this does not need to be the case!
Every family, whatever the dynamic, want to preserve moments in time and special occasions. I recognise with SEN children there is often an extra layer of consideration in nearly everything we do – but in this blog I want to set out how finding the right professional photographer to capture your memories can be easy in just 5 steps.
1) Do your research and listen to recommendations – There are a few things you may wish to consider such as location, accessibility and of course photographic style. You’ll want photos that you can treasure forever so if you aren’t keen on the 80’s soft focus used by a photographer or perhaps the photos look too staged for your liking – move on to another photographer. There are loads out there and their styles, along with their prices, can vary amazingly.
2) Once you have a short list of potential photographers find out what experience they have working with children with additional needs. Just because they don’t appear to have any photos on their website doesn’t mean they haven’t worked with them, they could even be a parent to a SEN child themselves – never make assumptions! This leads me on to step 3….
3) Speak with the photographer. This is the best way to judge whether that particular photographer will ‘get’ your family and your needs. Finding out what adjustments they can make for you is also a very good indication of how adaptable the photographer is. It is also worth asking about their cancellation policy – what happens if its a bad day for your SEN child? Can you reschedule?
4) Remember the photographers out there are very professional, experienced and engaging people. There will be very little that they haven’t been asked to do so don’t be afraid of asking awkward questions!
5) Book! Once you have chosen your photographer – book your session, start planning what you will wear and above all look forward to capturing some lovely memories.