Melody — 5 Minutes for Special Needs



Today’s guest post is by the lovely and passionately inspiring Tracey Clark, photographer, writer, mom and founder of Shutter Sisters.

When Melody asked me to share a few tips for photographing children I couldn’t refuse. I love to share thoughts, ideas and lots and lots of photos.

Love shirt

Although taking great pix of our children is not rocket science, it is an art and like any creative process, practice (and some guidance) gets you closer to perfect. We all get lucky sometimes and the more we shoot, the better our chances of getting that one classic shot but being able to dial it in consistently is what most moms are striving for.

To capture the best photos of our children, it’s important that they are comfortable and relaxed. This can be especially true for special needs kids. This is why most of the time, shooting in the comfort of our own homes is the best place to start.

To shoot stellar images around your home, you must get to know your home photographically. What room offers the best light, at what time of day and can you get away without using the flash (which is optimal)? What backgrounds of your home make for good photo backdrops and how well does your camera do shooting in the different rooms of your home? If you can crack the code on these questions (and let me tell you they are not hard to crack, it’s just trial and error) then you can slowly master better everyday photos of your children.

Laugh 600

We all know when our kids are happiest; with their favorite books, games, snacks, jokes, songs, etc. If you use what you know about your kids and work it into how you know your home, you can put them together for a winning combination.

It’s as simple as keeping your camera handy as you sit down to play with your child. Pick their favorite game, find a corner of your home with the best natural soft light, set things up there, get down on their level and begin. Don’t talk about taking photos. Don’t tell your kids to smile. Just play. Enjoy the lovely light. Laugh, talk, and connect with your child. And snap some photos as you do. You’ll both have a great time together and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Half smile

And remember, the more you bring your camera along at playtime, the less disruptive your clicking will become and the more comfortable you and your child will be with these magical everyday portrait sessions.

Tracey Clark
Shutter Sisters


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Photographing Children [with Special Needs] ~ Those Eyes

We are drawn to one another’s eyes, and this is never more evident than when we look into a child’s bright and shiny eyes. We fall into those eyes.


When photographing children [people] it is most often the eyes we seek because the emotion they depict is pure. In close-up portrait photography we are forgiving of anything being out of focus except the eyes.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Pay close attention to the light and particularly look for the catchlights – the little reflections of light that show sparkle – in the eyes.
  • Focus on the eyes while they are wide open.
Read the full article →


Photographing Children [with Special Needs] ~ Just Keep Clicking, Clicking

How do you expect to get that perfect shot if you don’t click, click and click some more?

Any [honest] professional photographer will tell you that in order to get that one perfect shot, she snaps hundreds of photos. Really.

And that on occasion she walks away from a shoot without capturing the image she envisioned or that her client required. Yep, really.

I am clearly not a professional photographer, and more of my shots end up in the trash folder than in the editing program because I snap to excess. It is a sure way to better your odds of capturing that one perfect image.

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Photographing Children ~ Seeing Light

Look at light and admire its beauty. Close your eyes, and then look again: what you saw is no longer there; and what you will see later is not yet. ~~Leonardo da Vinci

Do you often look at photos and feel the emotion, the energy, the mood? You ask yourself…how do they do that? How do photographers capture images that you feel?

Light. They know how to see and use light. They fall in love with the light.

as seen on flickr by paul goyette

Take time…without camera in hand…to study the light around you. For example, light from windows, sunlight on a covered porch, the glow of a lamp, the light which surrounds dawn and sunset.

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Photographing Children [with Special Needs] ~ Preface

Our column, Photographing Children [with special needs], is suppose to begin May 26. Let’s call this post the preface.

Do you remember that as a child playing was your life?

In the mind of a child nothing is more important than play and having fun. Remember that. It will serve you well when photographing children regardless of their ages.

If you are receptive to play while photographing a child, he will grant you entrance into his world. Once inside you will love the moments you capture.


Your first little challenge:

Forget the fancy dials on your camera. Forget the program modes such as portrait and action.
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Photographing Children [with Special Needs]

You are a parent with an adorable kid [kids] and a digital camera in your hands. You are capturing every waking, and often sleeping, moment possible…yet the images captured are not exactly as envisioned at the moment of click.

If you are the parent of a child [children] with special needs, you understand there are sometimes factors beyond the norm which make photo sessions, whether candid or planned, even more challenging.

Any heads nodding yes?

Honestly, when photographing any child the majority of considerations are the same regardless of whether or not special needs are involved. Still, there are issues specific to photographing children with special needs.

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Because We All Need One

thrown into the pool...

Raise your hand if you are a parent of multiple children each with multiple special needs for which there are no medications, therapies, treatments or surgeries to control the bazillion issues pushing the entire family closer to the edge…

…because I’m feeling whiny…like a complete flop…utterly exhausted…

…and alone.

Whether you are a parent of one child or multiple children with special needs [or no special needs] you’ve felt these emotions.

Haven’t you?

Fess up.

Confession is good for the soul and your sanity.

And we’re not alone. We have each other.

Now everyone huddle in for a group hug because we all need one.

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Blind Photographers

Think you can’t take good photos? Stop your whining…you have absolutely no excuse.

Blind Photographers is a blog and photo archive of work by…yes…photographers who have visual challenges, including complete blindness.

The BlindSighted Project allows members of Blind Photographers to explore challenges related to our eyesight, challenges that affect our image-making process. This project is an opportunity to explore how we approach photography.

Visit the blog, view the photos, the project and read the photographers’ profiles…you will be inspired to pick up your camera and start shooting right now…to shoot anything, everything.

There is also a forum, DAB Photography Online – Bringing Disabled and Able-Bodied Photographers Together

This site has been developed to bring the disabled and able-bodied who share an interest of photography together, whether you are an experienced photographer or would like to take up photography as a new hobby.

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Request Permission to Abandon Ship

Although he lives with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Mac is very verbal…actually eloquent in speech. However, he rarely verbalizes his thoughts and prefers drawing pictures to empty his mind.

It is easy to see his mind at work as he sits and stares out a window, deep thoughts traversing his extremely bright mind…but I’m not often privy to those thoughts. When he does let me in, the thoughts can be anywhere from deep and spiritual to funny and creative to “whoa, where did that come from?”.

The other day Mac and I were sitting on the sofa, and he drew as I read a book.

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A Shadow the Length of a Lifetime

“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime. ~Herbert Ward

My younger three sons were blessed gifts of adoption. They were abused as infants and their special needs are a lifetime shadow. I was an abused child.

Please, don’t turn away from reading.

Child abuse is a topic of utmost importance with each of us holding a role of responsibility.

Yes, you can help prevent child abuse.

Your money, though important in funding programs, isn’t the most important thing you can give.

Your time…your promise to support parents and families before they reach crisis carries far more impact in the ultimate prevention of child abuse.

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