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Photographing Disabled Kids

Atlanta speech therapist Lauren Zimet works with kids with autism, cerebral palsy, and Down Syndrome.  She wanted photographs that showed that even kids with the most profound disabilities can express feelings of joy and accomplishment.

I interviewed her about her methods, and when she mentioned that she teaches kids to blow bubbles as a way of developing oral motor skills, I knew the subject of my main photo.  Because the speech clinic had little photographic interest, I took Lauren and her patient out of the clinical setting to a forested park.  I shot in the middle of the day under heavy tree cover, with a large silver reflector to fill in the shadows and separate the subjects from the background.  A shallow depth of field also was important because the location was chosen for its simplicity, not because of any association with the subject.  Because I was on a tripod, I was able to use the bubbles from four different frames, filling the image with dozens of bubbles when in fact each frame had less than ten bubbles in it.

© Joel SilvermanJoel_Silverman_Disabled_Kids_1
© Joel Silverman


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