Many of you might know that my name is Elizabeth and my photography business is named after my daughter, Grace. I started this photography business before I knew that Grace had Rett syndrome and would be profoundly disabled for her whole life.
Raising a baby into a young woman with the greatest challenges doing everyday things presented a challenge in my ability to photograph her. Sometimes, I wanted to capture what her disability was like for her. Sometimes, I just wanted to photograph her without showing her disability. I learned how to be patient and kind to myself in my ability to do both of those things. Some days, it worked out. Some days I just had to let go and be ok with whatever happened.
This started me on my path to capturing other families with seen and unseen special needs.
I also have a child with autism and so I know that not all extra needs are seen. Whether it’s a kiddo who isn’t into eye contact or a little girl trapped in her body which sometimes acts like a runaway train, I’m always happy to have the opportunity to serve.
Photographing kids with disabilities, special needs, or neurodiversity can be scary and stressful for the whole family. Believe me, I know the frustration of a photographer shouting my daughter’s name to try to make her smile (buddy, it’s not gonna happen).
So take a deep breath and relax and know that I’ve got this. I know how hard it may have been just to get them dressed for these photos. I know you might feel pressured to help me get photos that are perfect. I know the guilt of taking some more family photos after my special needs kid is tired out and no longer in the photos.
Above all I know that, for your family, these are more than just photos.
I didn’t expect to say all that at the top of this post to share one family’s photo session. It just poured out so I’m gonna leave it there. Whoever is meant to see it will see it.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing one such family with the sweetest little people, Gianna and Dominic. Gianna needs extra help to sit up and she wasn’t going to be up for a 2-hour session. To keep it simple and relaxed, we did their session at home on the back patio by the pool. It was high noon in Florida so we stayed in the open shade and let the noon sun bounce off the side of their white house to light up their faces.
Dominic was patient with his sister and such a superstar. I also enjoyed connecting with John and Andrea after the session to compare notes on doctors and specialists in the area as well as some tips for how to find extra help and getting teachers to come to their house.
Fusing my love for photography with my experience as a special needs parent is a joy to me and I hope more of these families come my way!