Using Photos to Teach Feelings by Shara Lawrence-Weiss

Cameras and coffee

Research has demonstrated the wonderful effect that real photographs can have on a child’s ability to learn. Children with autism are often drawn to real images: the colors, vibrant imagery, the facial expressions, and more.

While running various workshops at Bookmans Bookstore, the YMCA, MOPS groups, and mom groups, it became clear to me that many parents are unaware of how effective photos can be. A simple project can lead to activities that enhance understanding, empathy, learning, and the retaining of information.

Tell a story:
Take photos of your child helping someone else: a person or animal. Print the photos in color and put them in order (up to about 10 images). Laminate each one or cover in contact paper. String the images together, in order, to create a visual story. Look at the photos together and talk about what happened. Who did your child help? How was he/she affected? How did your child feel, knowing that someone was being helped through their actions?

Take photos of your child going through the steps of getting ready for the day. You could also take photos of a swim lesson or grocery shopping experience. What do you do first? Second? Third? Next? Last? Laminate the photos and string them together or place them on a flip ring. Talk about the steps with your child to help with sequencing. This will assist in reducing the stress of daily “have to’s” and errands — something that many children with special needs become frustrated by.

Colors or Feelings:
Take photos of your child wearing blue, green, red, orange, yellow, white, etc. Laminate the images and turn them into a game. “What color are you wearing here?” “Red, yes!” You can also write the color names on the back of each photo, prior to laminating them. When you say, “Red, yes!” flip the photo around so your child can see the word on back and associate that word with the color. Do the same thing for “feelings” images: sad, happy, frustrated, excited, joyful, lonely, and so on. This will help to build empathy in your child.

shara.jpgShara Lawrence-Weiss is the Owner/Founder of Personal Child Stories. Shara is a mother of three with a background in education, early childhood, journalism, freelance, nanny work, and special needs.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Originally posted on ParentLife on June 16, 2011.

Photographing Your Baby — Tips & Tricks


In the almost 15 months that our son, Jack, has been in our lives, we’ve taken more pictures than we know what to do with. Luckily, my husband has a knack for photography, and so we’ve gotten some fantastic photos (such as this one from our recent trip to the beach … I couldn’t resist), but there are plenty of not-so-great photos too!

Trying to snap frame-worthy photos of a baby often results in disappointment, frustration, and ultimately a costly trip to the local portrait studio. (Trust me … we’ve been there!) That is one of the reasons I was so excited to get my hands on a new how-to DVD called How to Photograph Your Baby.


In this DVD, Nick Kelsh, renowned photographer and author of eight photography books, including the best-selling book How to Photograph Your Baby, introduces easy steps that will have parents creating beautifully composed baby pictures in just a few minutes. The DVD explores common photography mistakes and offers simple, fun, and effective ways to improve results with a few quick tips.

Nick offers three main tips for getting great photos of your baby.

Tip #1: Get Closer to Your Baby
Don’t be shy when photographing your baby. Get closer and avoid all the background clutter that distracts viewers from the most important element in the photo — your baby. "Parents who take pictures of their babies never see all the background objects that often ruin the picture. All they see is their beautiful child. Don’t be afraid to get closer to your baby and try to be as conscious about the things you don’t want in the picture as much as what you do want."

Tip #2: Natural Light Is Key
Using flash in dark environments or for taking snapshots at parties is fine but turn the flash off when photographing your baby. Instead Kelsh suggests using natural light to create a softer, more attractive
photograph. "Move your baby closer to any light source — a sunbeam coming through a window, under a skylight, even peering out an open door," says Kelsh. "You will immediately see a drastic improvement in the quality of light and, if you follow the "get closer’ tip, your baby will appreciate you turning the flash off too."

Tip #3: Take Lots of Pictures
If you’re thinking, you’re probably not shooting photos — so just keep your finger on the shutter. One of the great advantages to digital photography is that there is no added cost to taking lots of photos versus just a few. The more photos you snap, the greater the odds for an album filled with priceless images. "Many people don’t realize how many thousands of photos professional photographers take just to get the few really good ones we see in Sports Illustrated, Time magazine, and even our favorite daily newspapers," explains Kelsh. "Don’t be afraid to keep shooting, because it’s your best guarantee for that one perfect picture."

If you’ve ever been frustrated when trying to get a good picture of your baby, check out this DVD. It also includes tips on capturing your child’s personality as well as how to file and display your favorite photos.

For preview clips from the DVD and to order, visit

Do you have any other tips and tricks for photographing your baby? Share them with us and other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment.