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Revealing Their Inner Beauty; Tips on Photographing Special Kids
SKPA (Special Kids Photography of America) is a non-profit organization that was born from Heidi Lewis’ frustration in trying to get a professional portrait taken of her one-year-old son, Taylor, who has a connective tissue disorder.
Lewis is not alone. According to her mother, Karen Dórame, who co-founded
SKPA with Lewis, “It’s hard to believe, but SKPA often hears that
parents are turned away by photographers when they hear that the child has special
needs. These kids are frequently left out of important family pictures, such
as weddings or graduation celebrations. It’s very important to include
these kids,” she emphasizes.
The Role of SKPA
Dórame, who is also SKPA’s director, has a background in public
relations and was once employed by a public health department’s Office
of Policy, Research and Planning. One of her duties was shooting pictures for
the department’s newsletter. “I learned a lot about photojournalism,
which is a very popular style with studios today,” she says.
The early days of SKPA involved a lot of research on Dórame’s
part. She started taking pictures of special-needs children at church, and the
health department allowed her to shoot pictures of children at their therapy
centers as long as the parents signed a release. She learned what skills were
needed in this specialized area of photography. This led to her working with
schools that had students with disabilities.
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