Steele and Sterling are twin brothers. And…they are a handful. What four year old boy isn’t? But then, you have two of them together, and the energy doubles—no—quadruples! Not only that, but one of them has autism. Not as severe as it could be, but severe enough to affect his ability to stay in one place, to make eye contact, or even to smile. The portraits were arranged by their grandparents—who were hopeful they would turn out well. I was hopeful, too, but I couldn’t help being concerned. What if I couldn’t evoke a smile? Or even get them to stay together long enough for a portrait? I so much wanted to do my best for their family, but I couldn’t be sure how things would turn out. So, I spoke at length with the grandparents, to find out as much as I could about what might work and what might not, and to be aware of any triggers. I also read up some more on autism myself. And, I revisited my bag of tricks for working with children, to make sure I had every resource possible at my disposal. The day of the portraits came, and I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that it was rough at times. A few things I tried worked somewhat, but others didn’t work at all, and as we neared the end of the time set aside for the portraits, I still didn’t have that “Wow” shot in the camera. But I dug deep, tried yet another of my bag of tricks…and the magic began! The expressions opened up, the smiles came, and I captured an amazing portrait of the two of them. I cannot overstate how relieved and grateful I felt, and how fulfilling it was to create something that, by all reasonable expectations, might never have come about at all.
Tom Launius, CPP