Everyone Deserves To Have Their Story Told – Photographing Children with Special Needs with Iris Hu

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Podcast about Photographing Children with Special Needs

Photographing children with special needs happened organically for Iris Hu, as parents were drawn to her natural, unposed way of documenting connections between family members. She shares her approach to family photography with us today, deeply connecting it to her “why” as a photographer.

Introduction (4:40)

How did you find your voice as a documentary-style photographer (6:08)

It started with my own wedding – I discovered the photojournalistic style then. I never marketed my own business as such, I am just naturally drawn to the little moments that happen in families. Photographing children with special needs happened organically as parents came to me because traditional posed sessions have never worked for them.

Why is it important to educate yourself to be able to work with all families (10:08)

I believe love is love. Every family is different, and they have their own story and their own look. My passion is to photograph good times and difficult times for all families because everyone is worthy of having photos of their lives. When I am photographing children with special needs, I especially strive to capture how parents comfort those kids, even when they can’t use physical affection.

How do you help families enjoy themselves when photographing children with special needs? (17:20)

I don’t come into the session with a shot list, so I’m never stressed about getting a specific shot. I thus set the tone of the session, staying calm and relaxed, and parents echo that. I still direct them into a specific area to explore, but then just document the moments that happen naturally. I also give directions to parents, and leave it to them to communicate that in the best way to their kids.

What do you do when connections are harder to find? (20:13)

Changing the scenery almost always works. Otherwise, if one kid is having a tough time, I will give them time to settle and focus on other connections in that time.

How do you find unique and magical locations (23:05)

I am very environment inspired. I often let clients choose a place that is meaningful to them. If they need help, I scout places around their house that I haven’t shot at before and we explore and have an adventure – that is an authentic family experience in my mind.

Advice for finding your voice as a photographer (28:00)

Know your why – for me it is all about feeling, and I want to bring families back to that moment when they look at their photos. Also, find your own voice – don’t just follow the trends.

What would you tell yourself as a beginner photographer? (31:56)

I would say to not to get the 24-70 zoom lens! I saved up a long time, but then realized I preferred prime lenses.

Speed Round (33:18)

What are you artistically curious about? (35:11)

Shooting with film, and videography.

Discover more about Iris Hu


Iris officially began her business in 2017.   She has been awarded the 30 pro award from the Lifestylephotographers association, recognized as top 25 Lifestyle Photographers in 2020,  and 3 diamond awards from the Wedding journalist photographers association.

She is a click pro master in the click pro-community, the hello creative artist through hello storyteller community, and rated 1 of the top 9 lifestyle photographers in Nashville through peerspace.com.

Resources shared in this episode:

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book

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