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Family Portraits, Posing Child in Wheelchair

Leslie Brookshire , Jul 10, 2009; 02:26 p.m.

Hi! I have a family portrait session scheduled soon, and am having a little trouble with some unique posing ideas. The family has a terminally ill 5 yr old daughter and are wanting family pictures done before she passes, for lack of a better way of putting it. The little girl is in a wheelchair, and probably will not be able to talk or smile. She will basically just be there to be photographed...does anyone have any ideas of ways to set this up? It's a very sad & strange situation, I know...any ideas would be appreciated! :)

Responses


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tobey bilek , Jul 10, 2009; 04:07 p.m.

How sad. I would not want this job.
Ask if they want her on a couch or regular chair. If she can not sit by herself or is confined, they will tell you. Gather the family close to prop her up if they can.

Paco Romero , Jul 10, 2009; 06:03 p.m.

Leslie, this is indeed a difficult and important assignment. I have only thouht about it for a moment, so here is the first idea that came to mind. Instead of a traditional family portrait with a dark muslin background, I would use a pure white background, I would place the girl with the wheelchair to one side, not totally cented, but not totally to one side. I would have family members stand or sit. I may try to have everyone hold someone else's hand. I would make the expressions neither happy nor sad, but reflecting stoic acceptance of reality. It could be a powerful portrait showing strength and courage with no frills of any kind, just a family with the courage to face the loss of a child. It would be interesting to have the family wear white as well - the light that opposes the darkness of death.

Errol Young - Toronto, ON, CA , Jul 10, 2009; 07:10 p.m.

First, I would listen to the family. Try to understand what they want and use your skills to do it if possible.

As for posing the child, I would think of her as I do a newborn, on someone's lap with them supporting their head if necessary. The rest of the family can fit in around them. You might try having them looking at her for one pose.

James Owen , Jul 10, 2009; 08:43 p.m.

A portrait of the child, on her mothers lap showing hands laid upon her, only the hands with her mothers hand on her heart and her mothers face kissing her gently on her forehead. White clothing; the chair covered in white. An angel with the family trying to hold is the picture.

Robert Gulotta , Jul 10, 2009; 10:29 p.m.

I have an almost two year old so its very very hard to even think of this... My take on it would be to have mom or dad holding the little one if that works, and keeping the faces really close together... let the image be of the faces, the souls, and less about the bodies that fail us.
I can't imagine shooting this, much less being in their position. I don't believe in prayer, but if there ever was a time, this is it. I am definitely not telling you what to do in any way, but couldn't even take money for this.

Tom Anderson , Jul 11, 2009; 03:06 a.m.

Just a thought - see if she might have a stuffed toy or something she holds or held dear in the shot, something that will spark a rememberance of happy times in the past if they had that.

Chad Hoelzel , Jul 11, 2009; 08:18 a.m.

I'd definately leave the wheel chair out of the pictures and make things more personal. You want to capture the memories of how things were normally as best as possible. Find out about some of the interests she had and try and work that into the pictures. Capture some things that defined her. I also agree with possing her propped on a couch or on mom or dad's lap. Make it more personal.

Leslie Brookshire , Jul 11, 2009; 10:25 a.m.

Hi everyone, thanks so much for your ideas & advice. It is a very grim situation. I can honestly say that I did not necessarily want to take this job, but felt that it was the right thing to do. And no, I most definitely will not be charging them...but nonetheless, I want these to be some great photos for them.
We are going to be outdoors, in a park type area. There are a lot of different background options...bridges, wooded areas, a beachy type area...I plan on bringing a couple of muslin backdrops too, just in case. I don't know if they are able to take her out of the wheelchair or not, but am hoping that it will be an option.
Anyways, thanks so much for the advice!!

James Owen , Jul 12, 2009; 12:42 a.m.

There are professional photographers who do and are on call to photo the dieing in hospitals with family and friends. I saw this on 60 minutes I think. They also work funerals. I shot my wife's son at his funeral, but, just before everyone came in. She treasures these photos today. So, I must say that they are the most treasured photos she has. Therefore, I would have to say that you need to do great as these photos will be their most treasured.
go to:

  • photography.families.com
  • I think this will help you.


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