Neurodivergent Friendly Family Photography

Feb 13, 2024

As a documentary family photographer in London I have noticed how great my style of photography works with families and children who are neurodivergent. Every family holds a unique story and my job is to highlight the beauty and authenticity of each family and their personalities.

Families navigating Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD or any sensory processing differences can find regular photo sessions very challenging. More traditional family photos might expect you to dress or behave a certain way, which can put so much pressure on everyone. With Documentary family photography there is no pressure to look pristine, to pose and paste on a smile or to do anything out of the ordinary.

In this blog post I will explain how documentary family photography is in my opinion the best type of photosession for neurodivergent families.

Mother washing the hands of her autistic son during a documentary family photo session in London

Relaxed in your own place

One of the key strengths of documentary family photography is the ability to capture families in their natural environment. For neurodivergent individuals who often find comfort in their familiar surroundings, this approach provides a relaxed atmosphere that fosters genuine expressions and emotions. In your photo session we will be in the comfort of your own home or go to places you usually visit, like a local park. This way the whole family can truly be comfortable and not need to deal with any unexpected transitions or changes.

Embracing own routines

Traditional photography sessions come with rules and expectations, creating potential stress for neurodivergent families. Neurodivergent children often thrive on routine and struggle with transitions, and therefore a regular photo session can cause a lot of stress. Documentary photography seamlessly weaves into your daily lives, respecting everyone’s unique routines without imposing artificial setups or schedules. I am there with my camera as a part of your day, and will fit into your routines and schedule. Allowing you to go about your day naturally. Giving you photos celebrating the beauty of your everyday routines and life. I capture genuine, natural moments as they unfold, which provides a liberating experience for everyone involved.

Autistic child hiding under his mothers coat from the wind and rain on the beach during a family photo session

Neurodivergence as a part of the family story

Every family has a story, and neurodivergence is an integral part of your family life. As a documentary family photographer, I try to capture the unique dynamics within your family. The photos encapsulates the love, joy, and occasional chaos that accompanies raising (neurodivergent) children, creating a visual story that becomes a cherished reminder of what makes each family extraordinary. Capturing neurodivergent children or parents as they are, without trying to fit them into conventional molds, also helps reinforce the message that being different is not just okay but absolutely beautiful and to be celebrated.

No awkward posing, only genuine moments

Unlike traditional family photography, documentary sessions do away with the need for awkward posing. Instead, the focus is on genuine moments – laughter, frustration, love, and everything in between. Children can run around, play and do whatever they like, without being judged. For neurodivergent children who may feel uncomfortable with forced postures, this approach allows them to express themselves freely, resulting in authentic images.

Neurodivergent Child relaxing with a phone in the sand during a documentary family photo session

Emotional Realness

Neurodivergent individuals experience a range of often unfiltered emotions, and documentary photography embraces them all. From moments of anger, big belly laughs, or the desire to pull away, every emotion is considered valid and is an essential part of the family’s story. Instead of conforming to traditional norms giving you idealized portraits of your children. My photo sessions embraces each child and parent to express their personality freely in front of the lens. There are no preconceived ideas on how anyone should behave, feel or look.

Breathing room and downtime

As a documentary photographers I prioritize working at the family’s own pace. Understanding the need for space and downtime is crucial when working with neurodivergent families. Breaks from the camera, moments of quiet, or even allowing a child to retreat for a while are not only accepted but encouraged. Flexibility and understanding are at the core of creating an experience that feels natural and stress-free for everyone involved.

Flexibility and going with the flow

Neurodivergent families often navigate unpredictable challenges or emotions, and documentary photography adapts seamlessly to these dynamics. The flexibility of this approach allows me, as your photographer to go with the flow, adjusting the session to what feels best for everyone in the moment. I also always offer an additional hour of photography to build in flexibility into the schedule. That way there’s room for spontaneity and the unexpected, and the pressure of time can be removed. My goal is for everyone to feel comfortable and I am someone who will bring a go with the flow, calm and non-judgemental attitude.

Communication and understanding needs

I completely understand that every family is different and that neurodivergence is not all the same. So, my priority as a photographer is to get to know you as a family and as individuals. I completely understand they you are your children their unique needs and wants. Before the photo session even begins, I will prioritize communication. A questionnaire and a pre-session phone call help establish a connection and provides an opportunity for families to communicate their needs. This proactive approach ensures a customized and inclusive experience, creating a safe and welcoming space for neurodivergent families to express themselves comfortably.

Child and father reading in the room together during a neurodivergent friendly family photo session in London

So, if you are a neurodivergent family then documentary family photography can be a great way to capture family photos without being intrusive or stressful. By embracing genuine moments, celebrating differences, and providing flexibility, this approach not only produces stunning visual narratives but also contributes to a broader understanding and acceptance of ourselves and our children. Through the lens of documentary photography, every family, with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, tells a story worth cherishing.

I know that by learning more about the various ways that neurodivergence shows up, along with strategies that I can use to meet those children and parents where they are, I’ll be better able to serve this growing segment of my client base

And if you happen to know someone who’s looking for a family photographer who’s able and happy to work with ND families, please share my name! And if you ARE one of those families, please know that I’d be honored to work with you.

And as a documentary family photographer in London and beyond I promise to provide a safe and welcoming space for all families, including those that are neurodivergent. To create a photo session that feels comfortable and where you can be yourselves without judgment and with a focus on your needs being met. You can contact me to find out more and how I can help you document your family.

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