SEND Documentary Family Photography
Photography Sessions for Families with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in Bath & Bristol
This week is World Autism Awareness Week (29th March – 4th April) and so I thought this would be a great time to talk about why I think that Documentary Photography is the easiest type of photography for families and children with SEND.
As a mother with personal experience of special needs, I am familiar with wanting to capture beautiful family memories, but worrying about whether it’s a good idea to book a family photographer because you never quite know what will happen on the day. This is of course the case for any family, as children and their moods can be so unpredictable but I think with families of children with special needs, these worries will be more of a day-to-day reality.
Many autistic children (and grown ups!) really don’t like having their photograph taken. The idea of posing, having to stand still and smile on demand is just not something that many of our children can cope with (don’t we all feel like this at times!!), it may feel like an impossible situation. The very thought of it can make some children freeze or be so overwhelmed that they are unable to join in with family activities for the rest of the day. Each individual child (special needs or not) has their own interests, their own identity and many can talk passionately for hours on one subject or play absorbed in their own projects for a long time, some may not be able to engage at all. On the other hand, there are so many amazing aspects of our children, it can be so precious to document this through photography. Talented musicians and artists can be shown in their elements, indepth discussions on space and how a black hole works for example, or naming every stop that an airline makes! It is mindblowing to show what some children are capable of!
The very reason I fell in love with documentary photography is that is doesn’t require any of the awkwardness: no posing, forced smiles, bright lights, no matching uncomfortable outfits or playing happy families. A skilled documentary photographer can capture beautiful images without the need for all that. These candid, unposed and unplanned photographs are in fact much more beautiful (in my opinion), because of the meaning you see within them: the real-ness, the feelings they can bring back about what you were doing at the time, the stages your children were at, who you were with, the emotions you were feeling, even the smells or the sounds sometimes. Images, much like music, can have a powerful effect on people, and transport you back to a time and a place. And how wonderful if that time and place is your happy place, with your family, doing your favourite things.
In documentary photography, the aim of the photographer is to spend time with a family, in their home or somewhere meaningful to them, simply noticing moments and recording a family doing what they would normally be doing: their normal everyday life. They find the beautiful in the everyday and record these moments to look back on and cherish. Your family is unique and each person within it has their own individual passions and quirks and it’s just amazing to celebrate this and preserve it for posterity. All because they are allowed to be themselves.
During my photography sessions, when I am with your family, I aim to fit in like a member of the family. There are no expectations or pressures and I am very happy to be flexible. I will make sure that you get the meaningful, beautiful everyday images. I know how challenging this life can be, but I also know that every parent will cherish beautiful images of their family, on their walls or in a special album, so they have wonderful memories to look back on of their life and the huge amount of love they have for the people they work so hard to support and look after.
If you have children or family members with SEND, but you worry about investing in a photography session in case there are challenges during a session, there are things that I can do to tailor my sessions if needed and I am very happy to discuss your needs.
- Tailored sessions lengths.
- Meet the photographer pack / zoom call, before your session so your child feels comfortable with me and will allow me to become part of the “family” for a short while.
- Low interference – the session is completely tailored to your family and what you would normally enjoy doing together, so there will be low sensory input to avoid over stimulation.
- Absolute understanding if the session does not happen how we are hoping and the ability to rebook at a later date that is acceptable to all.
- Acceptance: Each family is their own normal, this session will be a judgment free, supportive and accepting one, if you feel comfortable with me, then your children and family will do so too and the images created will be so much more natural and real.
- Ability to view your images at a mutually acceptable time, as will fit into your timetable.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions at all about how my sessions work and how we can work together to make a photography session as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for all the members of your family. Every family has its own unique story to tell and I would absolutely love to tell yours.
Photography Sessions for Families with Special Needs in Bath & Bristol
To view more images of my family storytelling photography visit my family page.
For more information and support on autism:
Rose Dedman offers autism, ADHD and SEND friendly documentary family photography sessions for families across Bath, Bristol and the South West, providing accommodating, understanding and judgement-free photography.
Photography Sessions for Families with SEND