Four Tips for Special Needs Friendly Photo Sessions

When my son was first diagnosed with autism, I started realizing how limited services were for families like ours. Certain things that seemed relatively easy for some, like going to a park to have family photos made, was much more physically demanding for us due to my son's needs.

Not only was a familiar location helpful, because of elopement issues in many children with autism, we also needed a space that was safe for him. No traffic or roads nearby, no ponds or lakes that could cause him to wander - those were just two of the criteria early on.

I also found that he's happier when he's doing what he loves, whether that's swimming or relaxing at home. The purpose to me of photography is to capture a moment in time. And everyday moments are just as noteworthy. In our house we celebrate milestones big and small and some of the best photos happen not because they're posed, but because they're real. (Check out Santa and the shoes pictured above. If he's getting comfy, his shoes are coming off!)

Whether you're a family impacted by special needs or a photographer looking to be more inclusive with your photo sessions, here are some tips to consider when booking your next session:

  • Accessibility of location (handicapped accessible, safe for elopers, etc.)
  • Duration of session (allow for additional time to adjust to a new setting)
  • Refund/reschedule policy (if the client is simply not having a good day, what are your options to reschedule?)
  • Props (instead of poses, do you have props or toys or familiar items that can be included?)

If you're in the northwest Georgia or Chattanooga area and are interested in scheduling a session, feel free to contact me to discuss a location that works best for your family.