Serving families of children with special needs
through exceptional photography

Photo: Laura Popiel

Charging for Photographic Services

At first thought, one would think that all services to special children should be provided at no charge. Not so. Carefully consider what the family would want and can afford. Yes, some families of special children are very grateful for a beautiful portrait of their child that does not cost a fortune. On the other hand, parents would probably not even think about asking about professional photo services because there are too many other bills that have priority.

Many famiies that have a special child--or children--are laden with heavy medical or therapy commitments. SKPA recommends that a photographer use their heart to decide how to be compensated. Most often the sincere gratitude of the parent is payment enough.

Be aware that some parents are offended when someone assumes they should get free services out of what translates as "pity" for their family and child. They are actually "put off" by this assumption of needed charity.They love their chidren dearly and are proud of who they are. These are usually the parents who want their children to be mainstreamed in school, sports and other aspects of their lives. Decisions here may be fine and at times a tricky line to follow. If the photographer insists on absolutely no payment for the session and prints, that client will most likely not return for additional services because they are embarrassed by unsolicited "handouts." 

SKPA suggests  that a hard and fast rule of providing everything free of charge to families of children with special needs would eventually equate to a denial of services. Children with Down syndrome, for example, are born to families of all races and income--Black, White, Asian, poor, wealthy and all socio-economic ranges in between. Some SKPA photographers have a large special needs clientele who come for services one or more times a year (as with families who have typical children). They order large 20x30 mantel prints, albums, baby announcements, graduation announcements as well as a myriad of other types of photographic products. A photographer could not afford to give all those items away at no charge. That would put them in a very awkward position and would make the parents quite unhappy.

Parents are looking for photographers who can do the job right, not simply for free. 


Smiles for Katie Family Photo Grants








SKPA-Accredited photographers may participate in the Smiles for Katie Family Photo Grant program. When this program is funded through a grantor, families that are stretched thin with medical or therapy bills may apply for the grant in cooperation with a SKPA-Accredited photographer. Contact us for availability of the grant and the easy-to-complete application form. The grant helps pay for a session and one 8x10 or smaller print. Details are listed on the application form.

The program is named in memory of Katie, an adorable 4-year-old child with Down syndrome. She passed away while on vacation with her family. She was dearly loved. However, a newly accredited photographer named Sally Harding scheduled a photo session with her just a day or two before the family left town. The photos are treasured by the family because of the sweetness that was captured in her very special images. 



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