Getting kids to cooperate for a photo session can be difficult. When you have a child with special needs like autism, it can present a whole new set of challenges. This clever family photo shoot handled one child’s needs in an incredibly awesome way.

Eight-year-old Levi Bishop has always had a hard time with family photos. As his mom Samantha Bishop explained, it can take hours to capture just one image. But in September, the family managed to get the perfect shot in just 20 minutes. The key? A T-rex costume.

Being a single mom and having a young son with autism hasn’t been an easy journey for Bishop, but she found a steady career and a passion in photography. Despite being a photographer herself, however, she still struggled with getting a great picture of her son.

“I fell for the pressure of having an ‘Insta Perfect’ life and posting adorable photos of my child smiling happily and looking at the camera. It took coaxing, bribery, dancing like a fool and a whole lot of bathroom jokes. It was exhausting,” she explained in a Facebook post.

“Out of 5,000 photos I may have had 10 great ones,” she continues. “Eye contact was uncomfortable. Smiling or showing emotion on command was uncomfortable. And it was so hard to understand why this process of just a few good photos of my kid had to be so difficult. I was able to take great photos of everyone else’s kids with ease but not mine.”

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For this year’s photo Levi suggested that he dress up in costume and Bishop agreed. The costume made a world of difference and Levi even seemed to enjoy himself. “He loved it, he was laughing hysterically, and he was super-excited,” she said of the photo shoot he shared with his cousin Lola.

As a photographer, Bishop has encountered other families of kids with autism who shared a similar experience of struggling to capture a family photo. Her advice to them is, “If parents would just let the kids be themselves, it would be OK—they don’t need the picture-perfect smile or moment, but if their child is happy, they will get the picture they want.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

 

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