Help photographing unresponsive child

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by NewLifePhotography, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. NewLifePhotography

    NewLifePhotography TPF Noob!

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    Hi all - this is my first post so hello - sorry its such an awful subject :(

    By unresponsive I mean he has a degenerative nervous disorder and is unable to move. He is my friends baby and is turning one, and this will be his only birthday. I'm photographing him with his family as a birthday present, and his health is going downhill fast - it will probably be my only chance so I need to get it right!
    I need some ideas for posing him and getting him to look less stiff (his disorder creates stiffness in his limbs). All I can find is photographs of newborn babies - I don't think she wants photos of him lying on a pile of towels/in a basket. He is one and I want to take photos of him like I would any other 1 yr old. Can anyone help??
     
  2. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This child is not like any other 1 year old. I think that it might help if you stepped back and viewed this situation through the eyes, and lives of your friends. They are wanting memories of a child that may well never see another birthday. A child they brought into this world and love as any other. Often in this kind of situation parents love a child like this even more. While that probably makes no sense if you have never been in that situation, parent is this type of situation pour a lifetime of love into the little time they have. The obviously understand and live with what this child can and cannot do. They are painfully aware that their child will probably never crawl, walk etc.

    I would discuss this with your friends and ask them what types of photos and poses that they would like. Lying is a basket amongst a colorful blanket may be exactly what they want, because this is exactly what their child can and does do and this is how they will always remember him. I can think of no other situation where the clients wishes, for lack of a better term, would me more important. They want something to hold onto and cherish for the rest of their lives.

    My prayers go with them and their son.
     
  3. mwcfarms

    mwcfarms No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My heart goes out to him and his family. I hope you have an incredible shoot and that the family finds comfort and strength during this time.
     
  4. pgriz

    pgriz Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Your friends' baby is not like any other 1-year old, and if you are doing it for your friends, then it's what they want that becomes more important. They do love him. Do they hold him? How do they express their love? Maybe that is the thing you need to capture - the feelings they have and how they express those feelings to their baby. There are many pictures of "cute" babies, but the ones that evoke emotion are those where the baby-parent link is explicit (holding, cuddling, feeding, stoking, and so on). I wish the parents the strength to cope with what may be coming, and to you I wish the wisdom and skill to make the right contribution.
     
  5. guajero

    guajero TPF Noob!

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    I would tell you that your friends will be happy with whatever you produce and you are a good friend for helping. Just shoot away and then end result will be good.
     
  6. Mustlovedragons

    Mustlovedragons TPF Noob!

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    Sleeping with angels wings? Sleeping in any variety of poses?
     
  7. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think that the lighting is going to be important in this case too. I think that you're going to want it soft but well shy of somber for indoors. Maybe near a southern window? (I noticed you're in New Zealand so I guess southern light would be equivalent to my northern light)

    As to the posing I suggest that you have the things that the parents use to entertain the child in a few of the shots positioned as thought they had just had a good session of play and had paused for a bit. I would stay away from anything that looked like the child wanting them to come and play out of consideration for future viewing. Ask them what they feel to be the difference. They will likely come to appreciate photos that remind them of the times they had together with the child more than a regular portrait.

    I would also suggest taking a few outdoors. I understand that the baby never got to run and play but you should also be capturing the hopes and dreams they had for their child which will, in a way, come to be of comfort to them as well.

    Anyway, have an eye for the joy and love the child brought and capture that rather than posing the child into something that he isn't because showing a "stylized" child will only make them feel more hollow when he's gone.



    Please pass along my deepest sympathies and prayers

    mike
     
  8. NewLifePhotography

    NewLifePhotography TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the encouragement and kind words everyone. I did the shoot this afternoon and I think it went really well. It turned out I didn't have to worry about posing him as the only place he was happy was in mum or dads arms, so we got lots of lovely cuddly photos - which I would post if I knew how... can I post them without them being online already?
     
  9. NewLifePhotography

    NewLifePhotography TPF Noob!

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    ok i've uploaded a few to my gallery which I assume everyone can see
     
  10. pgriz

    pgriz Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Those pictures are really poignant - and you can see the love the parents have for their sons. The boy's eyes are quite haunting - clear and blue, and piercing in one way. The tube which is partly hidden by the bandages reveals that this is not an ordinary photo shoot. It is jarring (since we expect baby photos to be about cuteness and future aspirations), and it reminds us of the mostly-unseen struggle that is going on in that tiny body, affecting everyone around him. The boys hair is kinda askew, but that adds to the image, as it signals the all is not right. The baby's parents appear to be relaxed (as much as one can be in the circumstances), and even quite joyful.

    Congratulations. I think you did brilliantly.
     

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