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Need guidance on an upcoming "sad" session

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  • Need guidance on an upcoming "sad" session

    I have a good customer who referred her neighbor to me back in March. Neighbor finally called today and scheduled the session. She has 4 girls - 8, 6 and 8 month old twins. One of the twins is terminally ill (a brain disorder). My customer just wanted to give me a "heads up" on the situation and to ask me to be extra mindful/tactful of the situation with this terminally ill baby. I acted like I didn't know when mom called and we were talking about where to do it etc. She said the baby is more like a newborn in what she can and can't do. Did say the older girls were able to hold her. I suggested bringing a car seat and favorite blanket for a few by herself. I don't know and didn't ask if the baby has an obvious disability (ie larger sized head). Any one have experience photographing anything like this session? I'd appreciate advice and posing suggestions, TIA for your help.

  • #2
    no experience...but sounds like you have a handle on this....what about a large bean bag to hold her if needed. Just cover it with fabric..Good luck...that is a tough one emotionally. Amy


    • #3
      My friend had a baby without a brain...after a few weeks the head started to fill up with fluids and got so big that holding the head up was impossible. Ths tiny baby weighed 15 kg (30 pounds?) when she died at 15 months.
      We did some photos just before the end and my friend had a picture of the babies hands enlarged, doing maybe lots of baby parts on top of the normal pics would be nice.
      Maybe ask if you could hold the baby for a moment, if possible, might make the mother happy. My friend was so sad that people would not be able to talk or smile or hold her baby as she looked so different.

      Good luck and let us know how it went

      Solveig in Japan


      • #4
        I love the thought of the sisters holding the child...I just got goosebumps thinking about this...This is one of those rare moments that we get to record a heirloom in a family...those sisters will have this image to remember their sister...It is a privilage to shoot it.

        What about a bassinet or a old fashioned stroller of some sort...might be cheesy I don't know..I really love the idea of all the sisters cuddled in on a couch holding and talking to the baby. matter what the outcome...please show us your results!


        • #5

          Sounds like you have some good advice. I recently had a baby that the mother wanted me to photograph because he was born with a severe cleft. He was scheduled for his first surgery and would no longer look like the baby she gave birth to and fell in love with. He was 3 months at the time, but because he was also a premature, was only the size of a newborn. I did the typical newborn shots for a kissable collage and also some with his big sister holding him. Not only did he have a severe cleft but also a severe skin rash and purple feet and hands do to another problem.

          The one thing I have learned from working with her is that people in these situations, have usually learned to cope with the situation and bravely go on. They love their child and want them to be photographed just as you would any other child. This mother wanted to be able to remember her child as he arrived in the world.

          Feel her out as you photograph them. She will let you know what she is looking for and comfortable with.

          Best wishes,


          • #6
            Cathy.....I thought I would share some examples of how I have posed siblings who couldn't really hold the little ones. Even though these are newborns, it would still be possible to pull of similar poses.

            Both the boy and the girl were 4 years old. I laid the boy baby proped up on his brothers lap and the baby girl was laid in the sister's arms, but with a pillow to prop up her arm.

            I wouldn't ask about any physical defects to the Mom. I would just wait for the session. Chances are, she may not be able to even hold her head up alone.
            Attached Files


            • #7

              You'll do fine. You know what works. I'm just praying for that detatchment thing to kick in for you. It's awfully hard to focus (even auto) when tears are flowing. You can always be human afterward, but you kind of need to go auto pilot for the session itself. You don't have to be uncaring, but you are gonna need to keep emotions in check to make this work.