Ask any photographer about taking pictures of children. It can be an extremely challenging task. Now, think of compounding this frustration by adding autism or cerebral palsy to the formula. This is an assignment that many photographers would rather not undertake. Realizing this, parents of children with special needs often do not even attempt to have professional portraits made of their disabled offspring. Other parents express their frustration, because they are forever hoping for—but not getting—a picture that will bring out the true “spirit” of their very special son or daughter.
Bob Harper, owner of Bob Harper Photography in Downtown Hampton, has recently completed training offered by Special Kids Photography of America (SKPA), a nationwide nonprofit organization that ultimately benefits families of children with special needs. This unique instruction helps make the photographer’s interaction with the child easier and the parents a lot happier with the results.
Unique techniques are used to achieve excellent results. Take lighting, for instance. Natural lighting is recommended for children with certain disorders, because a photoflash may trigger a seizure or frighten a child. When photographers realize this, they can avoid unfortunate incidents.
In other cases, some children may be sensitive to touch or react adversely to subtle sounds. Training teaches a photographer what to expect during a photographic session, but more importantly, what not to expect. “One of the main keys to success,” says Karen Dórame, SKPA’s executive director, “is effective communication between the photographer, the parent and to whatever extent possible, the child. The all-important pre-session interview with the photographer and parent helps everyone get a clearer idea of what to expect and the type of approach needed to work with the child.”
Harper has completed the SKPA Accreditation Clinic and is now combining this new skill base with previous photographic experience to provide solid skills and compassionate service to families with disabled or seriously ill children. To schedule an appointment with Bob, call 757-320-4469 or email him at Bob@BobHarperPhotography.com.
Information about SKPA and the related publication, Photographing Children with Special Needs, may be obtained by visiting www.specialkidsphotography.com.