Long ago, when I worked for a small-town Texas newspaper, I spent a lot of time in the schools and the community.  It was a small town, and the paper covered far more about the people in it than politics and crime.  On one of my school event visits, I was covering a new outdoor learning garden one class was planting.

One little boy caught my attention.  He was meticulous about planting his seeds.  Well, anyone who knows me knows how I feel about my garden. It is a true labor of love and I’m a little obsessed.  This child was my kindred garden spirit!

He paid no attention to me as I observed and photographed him planting his flower seeds in his designated little corner of the garden. The rest of his classmates had finished their plantings and were running around on the playground. He would dig a tiny perfect hole, add one little seed, and then slowly cover it with earth.  When he was finished, he would carefully and thoroughly pat the dirt down and move on to the next seed.

A teacher came over and I asked his name for my photo credits, commenting on his wonderful gardening skills.  “That is Daniel,” she said. “He’s autistic and really enjoys projects like this.”alexshelley-autism-fact-1

I didn’t know much about autism.  Jenny McCarthy had yet to make its awareness so mainstream and Autism Speaks had not been founded.   I started researching, as all good journalists do.   I learned a little bit more about autism that day, simply because Daniel inspired me.  Since then, I’ve continued to learn more, not just for my own personal knowledge, but to support the awareness and inclusion of those with autism.

Which brings me to my next favorite April Cause freebie:

Autism Awareness Month FREE Family Photojournalism Session

In order to shed a little light on life with Autism, I’m giving away Day In The Life Family Photojournalism sessions to families with autistic children here in DFW.

alexshelley-autism-fact-4What this includes:
  • 10 hours of documentary photography during a normal day.
  • Digital photographs of your images.
What is Family Photojournalism

Family photojournalism captures the raw and real day-to-day life of your family.  Nothing is posed, directed, edited, or planned. I simply observe and document those moments that are important to your family and tell your story – the real one that you love and cherish at the end of the day.

Why Family Photojournalism is Awesome

Family photojournalism captures the many different emotions that run wild during each day.  It isn’t just a bunch of pictures; it is a story. Your story.  The story of the love you have for each other, your strength, and your uniqueness.

These stories show the world what life with autism really is, and what it isn’t.alexshelley-autism-fact-3

Regular portrait sessions take a lot: planning, scheduling, and preparing.  With Family Photojournalism sessions, I blend into your normal routine.  There are no interruptions to your schedule, no outfit coordination, and no restrictions on what is comfortable for your family.  I embrace all that real-life entails – cereal stuck to the table, spaghetti faces, messy hair, yoga pants, etc.

By being an observer, the only difference to the norm is my presence.  While I do engage with you and your family during these sessions, I watch behaviors and sensory responses to gauge and adjust my position and practice as needed.  By spending a whole day with your family, no one is rushed and time allows for familiarity and many great photographs. alexshelley-autism-fact-2

I do not use flash photography during family photojournalism sessions.  My equipment is powerful enough to capture clear images in lower lighting conditions, so abnormal light stimuli is not disruptive to your child(ren).

What We Don’t Do

I am a photographer. I am not, nor do I claim to be an autism professional.  I do not get involved with any treatment or caregiving during my session with your family.  I simply observe and document with photographs your family’s life.

Please feel free to contact me for more information. I’d love to talk to you!

alexshelley-autism-fact-5Want to show your support for Autism Awareness Month, too?

Oh, I have a freebie for you!

Book any Family Photojournalism session and get your family’s story printed in one of our custom designed fine art albums for FREE! Your session will do some good, too: 50% of your session fee will be donated in your name to the Hope Center for Autism in Fort Worth, Texas.

This freebie expires on May 1, 2017! Be sure to book your session before then!

Ready to book your session to support Autism Awareness or have questions? Contact me!

Alex Shelley Family Photojournalism follows the Associated Press’s Standards and Code of Ethics for images.

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