Saturday, January 7, 2012

Working with Children

A good chunk of the portraits that I've shot have been of children. Between friends and family, I have a nice supply of cute little models to work with and practice on :) The kids I've spent most of my time with, range in age from 1-12 years old. Of them, I have found that there are ups and downs to every child and to every age group amongst them. After talking to another local photographer about this very thing, I wanted to blog about one child in particular.

Ein is a high-energy red head, who also happens to be my (almost) 7 year old cousin. He's not had the easiest of times growing up. His mother was in the Army when she found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to him but had to return to service soon after, which meant the baby was to stay with my aunt (his grandmother). At 6 months old, a virus swept through his daycare and he became very sick. He was in the hospital for months, with tubes...everywhere. They had him in an induced coma because they were worried that between the stress on his body and his need to tear the tubes out, he'd die. If I remember correctly, he, in fact, died twice while in the hospital, but somehow he managed to survive it all.

A few years later, we realize that he isn't hitting some milestones he should be hitting, especially in communication. We feared he might be deaf. Running tests for everything under the sun, deafness wasn't his problem. His lack of attention was stemming from "staring seizures" and ADHD. With this diagnosis, we were also waiting for results to come back for autism. They came back saying that he had high-functioning autism, more specifically, he had Asberger Syndrome (AS). With this form of autism, we found out that he had OCD, panic attacks, and social anxiety. He doesn't do well with loud noises, crowds, group activites etc. He'd be a loner, and in the event he wasn't able (or allowed) to be a loner, he'd act out. It is not uncommon for him to be the sweetest and most actively participating child in class in the morning...and be so disruptive that he had to be removed from class after lunch. It's not uncommon for him to be "yes ma'am/no ma'am" one minute and the next is either crying for no reason or is yelling because you've asked him how his day went.In between all of this, there's sunshine. The days where his meds are working properly and he's had an amazing day. Those days are the greatest days 1) because he's had a good day and is happy 2) everyone else is happy and stress-free because HE is and 3) when happy, he's the sweetest 7 year old ever! These are the days I like to catch him for photos.

He's by far the hardest child to get in front of a camera. The ADHD, especially, means he has the attention span of a gnat and is bored after only a few shots. If I don't manage the great shot within the first 6-10 frames, I'm out of luck 'cause when he gets bored or annoyed, it all of the frames. On the other hand, because he's so hard to catch, when I DO land a shot - it instantly becomes one of my favorite shots. He's just so damn cute!!! Because he's gotten used to my camera, I have landed more and more shots each time, but it's still a struggle to fight through the autism and ADHD to land it. At the end of the day though - totally worth the extra effort, on my part, to get the shot.

Now, here's Ein!

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