Once upon a time, there was a mom who sent out a message on FB looking for a photographer for her son, Carver.
She was looking for "classic teenage" photos.
Someone dropped my name in the comment box and that was the beginning of my journey with this amazing family
They were looking for photos to show Carver first and his disability second.
I told her that I would love to do the photos but did not want to charge anything as I had no experience photographing a child with disabilities. All I asked is that they teach me what I needed to know.
This was, by far, one of the most beautiful and meaningful sessions I have ever done.
And ever since, I've wanted to do more.
You see, Carver is not just your average teenage boy.
He is pretty darn special.
He has a super cool set of wheels that he travels through life in.
He charms all the ladies with those gorgeous blue eyes and long, lush lashes.
And when he laughs .... goodness your heart just melts into a puddle at your feet. ♥♥♥
This family has taught me what true love and sacrifice are all about.
They choose to look at every day with a full cup.
They are truly inspiring.
Nothing slows Carver down.
He goes on bike rides, sledding in the snow, hangs out at the beach girl-watching ...
He's been all up and down the East Coast with his parents.
Shoot, he's been to way more cool places than I have!So jealous!
He even went to the DMV to get his Learner's Permit! ;)
Words cannot begin to express how much this session meant to me.
This was my first "Generous Heart Session" even before that seed had been planted in my head.
This was my first experience working with a child with disabilities and this family was so gracious as to teach me and answer my many questions.
The number one thing I learned:
Person First. Disability Second.
It is "a child with a disability".
Or "a woman who is hearing impaired".
Or "a man who can't walk".
Person first. Disability second.
I'll be honest, I still catch myself sometimes saying, a Disabled Child, but then I hear Teresa in my head .... Person First. Disability Second .... and I correct myself.
I wanted to share a note Teresa sent to me after our session together...
I cried when I read it. ♥
"I don't even know where to begin... These photos are absolutely outstanding! Not only did you capture what we were looking for, you exceeded by giving us something we didn't even know was possible...you were able to capture the spirit of our son that is Carver! It always melts our heart when we are treated to his outbursts of laughter...you just can't help but to tear up. I am so glad he treated you to that! We take that as an indication that he is feeling good, is happy and approves of the situation....at least that's what we tell ourselves LOL! I hope you get to do more sessions like this because you clearly have that little something special. Just having the desire to learn and then the motivation to work with people with disabilities is huge! I would say that you did everything the right way...from asking questions to listening and accommodating us. We did not feel rushed and could tell that you were fully vested in getting the best shot just like I am sure you do for any client. I think the most beneficial thing for us was meeting first for the brainstorming and planning session...having that game-plan really made for great use of time during the shoot itself. Communication is really all you need because the disability can be as varied as the person you are working with...not being afraid to ask the "hard" questions and asking them the "right" way is really all you need... Just think of them as the person they are, look past the "label" as that is not what defines them. I feel like I am rambling, LOL, I do hope some of this makes sense. In a nutshell, you already possess the tools necessary, it is your desire to learn about people with disabilities and your willingness to accommodate them in such a "normal" activity. If you think about it, most of us have some sort of disability....some people wear glasses and some people use wheelchairs but to them, they both are necessities. There is nothing super special about me, I am just a mom that wants the best for her children, just like you...just like most mothers. Thank you for helping make that happen...and capturing those precious photos and making memories with us!"
Thank you so much, Mike and Teresa, for choosing me out of all the names that were dropped in your comment box that day.
I was truly honored and touched to be able to capture such beautiful photos of your precious boy and look forward to our next time together!