Family Picture Time, or How to Not Lose Your Sanity in the Hot Summer Sun

I used to be good about getting pictures taken of Mayor Bee. Professionally speaking, not just the basic “point and shoot” from my digital camera. From his first month through the first, second year…I was on top of it. I did his “First Year” books for the grandparents, framed pictures, all that jazz.

As most of you will nod your head in agreement – when that second child comes along…well, it gets more difficult. Poor M did not get the one month “oh she’s such a cute sleeping baby” shot or the six month “posing with her lovie” shot. Hell, our “family pictures” were shot by friends or with use of the camera timer.

Thankfully, both daycares she has attended have done “Picture Days” so at the very least I have those to gaze at. Of course, the packages are a racket because one sheet cost you about $12. Eek. Nevermind getting a CD of the image so you can have it on file.

Anyway, I knew we needed to update the family picture. I had my doubts though whether or not we would be successful. It can be difficult to corral B into an enclosed space. B has little patience to stand still and pose for a silly camera. He’s distracted by any and all things, so focusing is a Oh look a squirrel!

Smiling AT the camera is also a challenge. This is how it normally goes:

“Hey B…look here, no…look at the camera…at Mommy…ok, now stay still…cheese…oh for goodness sake get your finger out of your nose…no, no, don’t knock your sister over…oh, for goodness sake…STAY STILL!!!!”

And, POOF! he runs off.

I really need to get one of those DSLR cameras because with my basic point and shoot digital most pictures are blurry, or I get the back of his head, etc. The shutter speed just cannot keep up with B.

So, what to do? Well, I found a photographer specializing in children with special needs. And prayed that it would work out.

In the interest of disclosure, I have known Joanne for years. I knew that photography has always been one of her hobbies. However, Joanne has now branched out and started her own photography business, Yellow Butterfly Photography.

Her main focus in her business is photographing families with children with special needs. I guess you can say she stumbled onto it. Joanne knows firsthand how stressful and tiring it is to raise a child with special needs. So, if anyone knows how daunting this task could be – it would be her.

Prior to the shoot, we spoke at length about my expectations and how she can help me sort out my needs. We worked out some ideas and options. She listened to my concerns and assured me that it will be ok – that she understood how tricky it can be to get a good photo. She also asked a lot of questions, like which shots I really wanted. Details like this can get lost when you are wrangling two kids outdoors. We all know prioritizing is key, right?

We scheduled a morning shoot (knowing how the kids do better in the AM) at a local historic site. I always wanted to do an outdoor photo shoot – we never did knowing B’s affinity for running around. I took a chance that it would work out. 🙂

I kept my fingers crossed that the weather would cooperate. Mother Nature gave us lots of sunshine, but also lots of heat, that morning. It already registered 85 degrees at 8:30 AM when we left the house to go to the shoot. We met Joanne in the parking lot and immediately set up the first shot (the all important family shot). Afterwards she worked a lot with B and Mayita on some individual and sibling shots.

She worked really hard with B – talking to him, following his lead on where he wanted to go. She was very patient and flexible. She had lots of props that kept him amused. Especially the ball. He LOVED the ball.

Joanne shooting one of her many pictures of B…

And the shot that actually came out.

Of course, B decided that the open space is the perfect chance to do his “exercising” (his words). After a mere 10 minutes of running and kicking that ball shown above, he is drenched in sweat. My heart sank a little – I felt a little sad that my son is now a sopping sweaty mess for his pictures.  Joanne assured me that it’s quite ok. In fact, she had to step in and told me not to worry about him – that he was cooperating very well for her.

So I backed off. Except when he tried to launch himself into the poison ivy. We definitely had to steer him clear of that.

She took a lot of photos. Impressive, given B’s “Tasmanian Tendencies” and Mayita’s typical toddler diva-ness. She also tried to get some Father/Son, Mother/Daughter combinations but they weren’t as successful. But that’s ok – I was just hoping she got a few good shots.

Clearly I try to keep my expectations realistic. Don’t we all?

By the time the hour and a half was through, we were exhausted, hot and cranky. But, I was happy that B got through a photo shoot with minimal issues. Both B and Mayita passed out shortly afterwards, an indication that Joanne effectively used up their AM energy reserves. 🙂

Afterwards, a mere two days later, she had uploaded photos for me to look through. She worked on whittling down and editing the hundreds of shots. I was impressed that she even took that many pictures. I was worried though – how would they look?

They were awesome. I was delighted in seeing all the cute pictures of the kids.

Mayita – August 2012

I did a double take on our family picture. We looked GOOD, like your stereotypical model family. 😉

This is our lovely family.

I’m glad we got the pictures done. I’m happier that I was able to choose someone that understood our needs and worked with us. I appreciated Joanne taking the time before, during and afterwards with me to make sure I was happy with her services. I would recommend Joanne to anyone looking for a low-key, relaxed photo shoot in the DC area, especially for families with children with special needs.

For more information contact:

Joanne L’Heureux
Disclosure: Yellow Butterfly Photography provided a free session fee for the post I wrote about above. Yellow Butterfly Photography did not require that I write this blog post, nor did they request it. I have written my honest opinion on this vendor.  – Diane

About OneLoCoMommy

I live in Northern Virginia and and I look like the stereotypical suburban mom, for better or for worse. My son plays baseball and takes karate (albeit adaptive). My daughter is a gymnastics diva but rolls with the boys in T-ball. I've been a Room Mom and Playdate Coordinator. I work full-time, try to work out, and love my Book Club. However, I also blog on my experiences on our ASD, SPD and ADHD journey while trying to be a better parent advocate. All in a life's work.
This entry was posted in Family, Life, Mayita, Mayor Bee, Review, Siblings, Special Needs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Family Picture Time, or How to Not Lose Your Sanity in the Hot Summer Sun

  1. Mindi says:

    She did an amazing job!!! How fantastic. Especially love how she used the therapy ball. I will keep her in my mind for the families I work with! 🙂


  2. Lovely pictures! We’ve never been able to get a good family shot and my kids are now 4 and 6. I’m starting to think we may be able to get one now though … with some professional help.


    • OneLoCoMommy says:

      It’s amazing how we don’t engage in “normal” activities because we don’t know if it’s even going to work out. But I think the market is growing for vendors specializing in children with special needs. More often, it’s a mom with a special needs child leading the way. 🙂

      I hope you can get a good family shot – not just to hang on the wall but for future generations as well (I’m a genealogy buff as well so I love looking at old pictures).


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