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.
  • Forget say cheese or give me a big smile which usually forces the eyes into a squint.
  • Make the face and eyes the focal point of the image, taking up the entire frame.

Perhaps like me, you are the parent of a special needs child who has aversion to eye contact, and you’re looking to capture any image of your child’s eyes. It is not necessary to have your child look directly into the camera in order to capture those precious pools.

However, you do need to be clever and quick.

  • Keep your camera nearby and ready while your child is at play which is a perfect time for capturing images of him unaware.
  • Look for those moments of repose when you child stares off into nothingness. His eyes will most likely be big and bright with a soft facial expression.
  • Often when a child becomes sleepy, you can capture him in that wide-eyed-but-I-am-about-to-fall-over moment. Snap, snap.
  • Pay attention to the times your child is intrigued by happenings around him. He’ll most likely be relaxed, happy [and wide-eyed] and completely ignore you photographing him.
  • I am able to capture delightful face shots of one of my sons when he’s angry. He glares intensely (at nothing in particular), and I snap images of his face, either from a bit of an angle or often by simply stepping in front of him.


Maybe despite all of your best efforts you don’t consistently capture your child’s eyes in photos…anything from autism to blindness could be an issue.

Please remember, though the old quote says the eyes are the windows to the soul, the eyes are not the only windows.

Your child’s mannerisms, posture, the way he rolls in the grass or laughs at silly everyday happenings depicts just as deeply the beautiful soul within.

Treasure every photographed moment of your child.

We can only guess what this child is experiencing. But we can be sure that he’s not giving a moment’s thought to how he might appear to the photographer. ~Charlotte Moore

Please leave links in comments to your favorite captures this week, and do share them in our flickr group [been kinda lonely over there].

Questions and tips are always welcome in comments.

Melody is also at Slurping Life sharing photos and a few words from her special life.

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