Disability-Friendly Photo Sessions: A Stress-Free Experience

Nicole Paton Photography

By Nicole Paton

I wanted to preface this post with a little bit about how I came into the disability space and how my two passions combined.

I have a Masters in Speech Pathology and a double degree in Education and Psychology. The experiences I have had while working with children and adults in the clinical setting have allowed me to develop a unique skill set that I lean into almost every family session, whether or not the child or another family member has a disability and or additional needs.

I am passionate about all families having professional photos to commemorate life’s ‘smilestones’.

Time and time again, I have conversations with parents who have fears surrounding the shoot itself and the expectation that their child will not know how to behave or do what is requested of them. This is where I come in. With years of knowledge in both Speech Pathology and Photography, I pride myself on my ability to engage with my clients on their level, whatever that may mean.

Here, I have put together a list of ways in which I will support you and your family to have a stress-free and relaxed photo session and deliver beautiful wall art that will be treasured for generations to come.

Getting to know you

This is the most important part of the whole process!

Home Consultation

During our initial phone call, we will set up a time for your in-home consultation. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Shoot, now I have to clean my house!”. NO NO NO, I couldn’t care less if it looks like a storm has rolled in or the dishes are leftover from last night because I understand life is messy, you are busy and I’m stepping into your world.

Your home visit is the perfect opportunity for me to meet your little one/s, and help them to feel comfortable around me so that during the session we already have a lovely bond. I bring along my camera and we talk about the session and how much fun we will have playing games and having cuddles. It also gives me a chance to check out your clothing options and together we can put together some outfits for your whole family.

We will discuss your needs and come up with an action plan together. For example. Choosing a park with a fence for children who are runners or a wheelchair-accessible location that is not too crowded or overstimulating. 

Getting to know you further

Questionnaire

Following your home consultation, I’ll send through a questionnaire to get to know what you and your family like to do for fun and how to make you all feel comfortable on the day. We will have discussed these things at the consult but I also ask about the kids’ favourites and lots of other useful information that I can use on the day to develop a great connection, which equals great photographs.

Extra support

Social stories resource

As a Speechie, I LOVE a good resource and this session is no different. I have developed a flipbook called ‘My Photo Story’. It is a social story with images and text explaining the process of a photo session with me from start to finish. You may already use social stories in your home for things like teeth brushing, going to the shops, and getting ready for school. ‘My Photo Story’ is a similar book that can be requested and sent in the mail to your family prior to our session if we do a Zoom consultation or I will bring it along to your in-home consultation so that you can start to prepare your child for the session. All that I ask is that you bring the book back to our session for other children to reuse in the future. Anyone who thinks their family member may benefit from this flipbook is welcome to request it. Just send me an email. 

On the shoot day, I will go through the book with your child/ren and I will have the pocket version on my keychain to use when we transition through the tasks. P.S. I can also give you a magnetic photo tile for your visual schedule if you require one.

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