Weʼve written about this topic once before but we had an experience last week that I want to write about. Weʼve become involved with an organization called Fridayʼs Kids Respite (www.fridayskids.org). This group simply watches kids with special needs on Friday nights so that their parents can have a well-deserved break for a few hours. Itʼs a great concept.
We have joined Fridayʼs Kids in trying to serve these special kids and their families. Every month, we are setting aside times for these families. Our first night was last week. We were expecting it to be a challenge but rewarding experience. However, it was something different. Thereʼs always a good feeling in our studio – but, while those children were in our studio, the feeling here was hard to describe. It felt like, while they were here, the studio was sacred ground.
As we jumped and played and tickled and ran, trying to get a good picture of these special souls, we knew we were in the right place doing the right thing at the right time. All of us were affected by being around those amazing kids and their selfless parents. Each photographer requested that they be scheduled for any future Fridayʼs Kids sessions. Weʼve never worked so hard for a picture – but our work that night was unforgettable.
We heard the same troubling comment from each family. The parents explained that they had been uncomfortable going to photographers in the past. They felt like photographers did not like ʻdealing withʼ their childʼs special needs. Or, they believed that some photographers had the desire but werenʼt really able to handle their situation. They explained that past trips to the photographer usually resulted in frustration and poor photography.
Iʼd like to send a message to any family with a special needs child: we believe every family should have great portraits and parents shouldnʼt ever feel uncomfortable bringing their child to a studio. Every child deserves images that show how beautiful he or she is on the inside and out. We are able to handle any situation and feel honored, not inconvenienced, when we are photographing a special needs child.
After this past Fridayʼs Kids photo night, we received some notes of appreciation from the parents. Iʼm including those notes along with a few of the pictures from each session. Take a look – youʼll see what Iʼve been writing about and suddenly want to work at FotoFly! You may not be able to work here, but you can volunteer at Friday’s Kids. The biggest challenge this charity has is getting volunteers. It sounds like it’s easy to get involved and I can’t think of a more rewarding way to spend a Friday evening! Check out fridayskids.org for details.
“I wanted to let people know that they did a FANTASTIC job with our family and Brinley also. They realized that she loved movement and so they were dancing all over the room to get her to smile and laugh. They totally worked so well with her and our whole family. We were all laughing by about 5 minutes into the shoot. He even knew sign language to talk to our daughter with. Not many people know how to photograph special needs children, but they know their stuff! Highly recommend them to anyone!”
“Just wanted to let everyone know that FotoFly did an AMAZING job with our pictures!!! It actually brought tears to my eyes when I saw the expressions they captured on Brayden’s adorable face. I hope everyone else has a wonderful experience, too!”
“We had an amazing experience with Mekhai! They flawlessly captured his smile and buoyant personality! It was definitely the best photo experience we’ve had. I went in stressed because as many of you know, it is a challenge to take the family with our special needs kids to get family pictures. I came out laughing and smiling and danced in the car the whole way home. What wonderful people! I am still glowing from the outcome! They even burned the cd of pictures right there for us, and because of time constraints on our part, we’ll be back tomorrow for prints! I’m so thrilled and can’t wait to hear how it goes for the rest of you! All of my family and friends will know about FotoFly!”