Down syndrome photo shoot, a parents guide

Down Syndrome isn’t what makes it tricky, it’s the photographer…(and maybe the parents)

Please raise your hand if you have ever thought, ‘family photo shoot that just isn’t going to work for us’.  OK I don’t think your alone. Pretty much any family with a child under the age of 14 has those thoughts.  To feel a little apprehensive about attending a shoot at your local family photographers is a perfectly natural reaction to the concept.  Well there is good news, with your understanding of your child’s needs and a photographer who is willing to be educated, it’s easy to achieve those beautiful family portraits that will be the envy of all your friends.  Here we are going to walk you through our own experiences which should be helpful when you head into the studio.

The easy bit

Most children with Down syndrome have excellent social skills, and keen to explore their new surroundings. Visual supports like looking at other peoples photos, help them understand what to expect. The photographer should use these key elements to build a rapor and gain their trust.

The not so easy bits

If your child uses non-verbal, expressive language to communicate, try to develop that to assist with providing instruction / guidance during the photo shoot. Maybe you use Makaton signs? Practice the sign for sitting, smiling etc…

Sometimes, the ability of children with Down syndrome to process verbal information is not as good as their ability to hold and process visual information. The processing and recall of spoken information is greatly improved when supported by relevant pictures. It is a great idea for the photographer to have other peoples photos ready to hand to show them how they want them sit and pose.  Patience and a calm environment is a must, it’s not unusual for children to get overloaded by the excitement of it all.

Just to conclude

We were very nervous about writing this blog and have tried not to generalise too much.  Everyone is different, and we ourselves try to adapt to the individuals needs.  Remember photographers tend to be sociable creatures. Their main objective in life is to produce the best photographs they can for their customers.  With this in mind please approach the subject head on, educate and inspire the photographer to create a photograph that contains the very essence of your child.  If you wish to discuss further please get in touch here.

Philip Charles Photography