This is Autism

by: Tera Girardin on

My hope with my Faces of Autism project is to show the world, through my camera lens, how beautiful and amazing children with autism are. And on this World Autism Day 2016 I want to do just that. 

I spent the last year meeting with families and doing photo sessions for this project. Really special photo sessions. It was a deeply personal and inspiring experience for me. To capture their spirits with my camera brings me such joy!

Not every session went smooth. Not every session was easy. Not every session garnered eye contact and smiles. But every session inspired me. These children are amazing!

There is a lot of hard when it comes to autism. Autism families hear a lot about the hard stuff. When first diagnosed it's all hard, daunting, isolating, difficult, confusing and ! Frankly I have to deal with enough hard that I'd rather not spend time talking about the hard all the time. Which is why I want to focus on the joy, the beauty, the victories, the child beyond the autism with this project. Because when it comes down to it, they are children first. 

What I've learned is autism is...

sweet | funny | loving | amazing | determined | loyal | vibrant| gift | resilient | energetic | smiley | remarkable happy | persistent | humorous | organized | blunt | silly insightful | delightful | quiet | loud | outgoing | shy | tenacious | exuberant | brilliant | hard working | sensitive thoughtful | fearless | moody | generous | kind |precise logical | intelligent | wise | artistic | beautiful | competitive | joker | compassionate | wonderful | motivated enthusiastic | honest | dedicated | bright | courageous | independent | courteous | patient | driven | serious | playful | eager | expressive | proud | sincere | responsible | trustworthy | friendly | imaginative | helpful | original | athletic | fun | brave | philosophical | decisive | gentle | quick | practical | emotional | creative | intuitive | charming | resourceful | warmhearted | adventurous | nice | diligent | forceful | inventive | rational | tough | willing | friendly | just | considerate | amusing | clever | innovative | spiritual | inspiring | curious | industrious | joyful | nurturing| perceptive | talented | caring | fair | analytical | goofy | polite | strong | affectionate | busy | selective | innocent | hopeful | lively | sweet | observant | mischievous | giddy | cheerful | bold | lovable

This is autism.

To follow along with the book production process, be sure to LIKE our Facebook page. Book coming Spring 2017!

Fall Family Sale

by: Tera Girardin on

Fall is the best time of the year for family portraits. The crisp sunny days and beautiful colors of fall makes for classic portraits. Be sure to book your date early and take advantage of the best deal I run all year... 50% off your Custom Session fee if you reserve a fall date by Labor Day. 

Custom Sessions only. Available dates (these will book quickly!)

Sept 12, 13, 25, 26, 27
Oct 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 30, 31
Nov 1, 7

Faces of Autism - Landon

by: Tera Girardin on

I'm thrilled to showcase these images from my first official Faces of Autism session. I'm excited to introduce you to the wonderful children that I have the privilege to photograph. And to give you a chance to see past the autism and inside their beautiful souls.

This delightful young man is a fan of birthdays! He lights up when there is a cake and singing. So that's what we staged even though it isn't his birthday until later this year. Who cares! 

I'm gonna be honest, because autism is hard. In fact, these cake shots almost didn't happen. You see Landon is non-verbal and gets overwhelmed by certain things... in this case, his brother and friends who were making a lot of noisy boy noise at the time. Who can blame him?! Noisy boys sets off my noise nerve too! But Landon is nonverbal so his reaction was quick and severe -- a sweep of his hands across the table that almost sent the whole cake flying! Whoa. Mom reacted quickly and understood right away the source of his frustration -- not the cake but the noise. And after the situation was calmer, we proceeded with the singing - minus a couple of cupcakes that fell victim to the outburst. 

Such is the nature of autism sometimes. I tell you this because I want you to have the insight as to what daily life is like. His mom bounced back like nothing happened because frankly, nothing did in her world. Autism mamas are resilient like that. 

I want you to hear from the parents too. So my book will feature words of insight and wisdom and inspiration from them as well.

Mom says...

“For a child that is non-verbal, it's so amazing to listen to him when he hums one of the many many songs that he hums in perfect pitch. His favorite song is Happy Birthday so during family get togethers during holidays, we always try to sing a Happy Birthday song that relates to the day.”  

I also plan to provide my own insight via journal notes I make after each session. 

Tera’s notes...

“Besides the indoor birthday photos, we also stepped outside. I was able to get a few photos of him on his tree swing. Which he obviously loves. Pure joy on his face when he was on that swing! Made me want to hop on. Who doesn’t love being on a swing?!”  

I hope this helps you see inside this sweet little soul. I am so passionate about this project. It gets me going and lights me up! 

Faces of Autism Announcement

by: Tera Girardin on

I'm really excited to announce the launch of a new project -- Faces of Autism, Stories of Hope. If you've followed me at all, you might recall my autism calendar. This is an evolution of that project. I'm really excited to expand it to make it become something of a cross between Humans of New York and Chicken Soup for the Soul but with a focus on children with autism. My hopes are to start with a strong online presence and then create a book from the stories told. Read on to learn more about this heart-warming endeavor.   5x7 Flier 

Faces of Autism, Stories of Hope is a unique project created by Tera Girardin of Tera Photography. Using compelling portraits of children on the spectrum, the project seeks to demystify autism, create acceptance and ultimately celebrate the magic inside each child. The photos will also feature inspirational stories about each subject using interviews with the parents and the children themselves. The focus will be on the magic of each child. To reveal the beauty inside each child! The accompanying stories will be ones of inspiration and hope. Please go and like the Facebook Page. If interested in having your child photographed and your story told, please review the FAQ and then fill out the application form. I'll need your help to make this project a success! Thank you! 

Tips for Better Kid Pics

by: Tera Girardin on

Photographing your own kids is hard! But if you plan ahead a little and have the right attitude, you can create beautiful portraits of your children.   Look for the light Unless you have professional studio lighting, your best bet is to get your kids outside and in natural light. Take a look around and see how the light plays off your subject’s face. If your kids are young, you might want to enlist the help of a grownup to do some location scouting first! Look to find the right spot. Are there harsh shadows? Is your subject backlit (so their face is dark and behind them is light)?  Is the sunlight too bright, making their eyes squinty?   Your best bet for soft flattering light can be found in open shade. Think of the edge of a porch with your subject in the soft shade. The sun can be just in front of them but not falling on them. This is the easiest type of lighting.

Many photographers love the sweet light just before dusk and it is truly beautiful. However, I find with young kids that timing the sunset isn’t always convenient. So give it a try with your older kids but better to photograph your littles earlier in the day.   Advanced Technique:  If you are indoors (since it is winter right now!), try placing your subject near a big picture window -- right up next to it. It can give a bit of shadows to the face if they are sitting with the window light to the side of their face. Classic and pretty portrait.
Take a bit of time to find the right light. It will make a huge difference in your photos.   Watch the background Before you click the shutter, take a quick scan of what’s behind your subject. Do you have a random sibling photobomber? Or something weird coming from someone’s head? Or maybe the background is just busy. Take the time to adjust your angle to correct for the background.   Advanced Technique: Utilize your camera’s depth of field and blur that background out.   
All about the angles Speaking of angles, most of the time it’s best to photograph a subject at about eye level. With little ones, that means getting low. Really low sometimes. Or moving the subject up higher so you are level.
Or get high! One way to correct an overly busy background is to have your kids sitting on the ground. Photograph them from a standing position slightly over them. Your background will be all ground and they will be peering lovingly up at you. It really is a sweet innocent look to photograph someone from above and offers a different perspective. 

OR get really low! With older kids it can show off how big they are if you lay on the ground and let them tower over you. Again, a fun perspective to try.   Contain Them Young children tend to wiggle and move and not stay still. So after you’ve found your sweet lighting spot, how do you get them to stay put?! You will need to find a way to anchor them. You can try a blanket and some books or favorite toy. No? That won’t keep your child still? Try a small stool that they can climb on themselves. Most toddlers love to play on a small sturdy stool. No? That won’t work either? Try a regular sized chair that’s hard for them to climb off of. No? You say your child is a monkey? How about a container -- basket, metal tub, wooden crate. Sitting inside something can be novel just long enough to snap a few. Or even try a small tent to play peekaboo with. As a last resort you can try a small snack like goldfish or Cheerios to keep them coming back to the place you want but you are likely going to get crumbs and fat cheeks.
  And if that doesn’t work...I suggest waiting until they are asleep and photographing them then! 
 Avoid “Mean Mom” So, sadly I have to admit, even I turn into Mean Mom when I photograph my own kids. I’m a professional! I’ve had clients call me the Child Whisperer because I get their kiddos to cooperate and create great portraits for them. And it’s still hard for me to get my own kids to do so. Here’s a few things I’ve learned after almost 10 years in business.   First, know your subject... pick the time of day that they are their best. Probably not when they are hungry, tired or over stimulated. Almost everyone is better in the morning.   Avoid bribes -- they almost always backfire. Kids are counting down to the bribe. And then not engaged with you and the camera. Reward afterwards but don’t promise, bribe, threaten or trick. Kids are too smart and it will backfire. If you cave in then you’ll have a lollipop in every shot. How do you engage your subject? Ask silly questions, get them talking, sing a song, have them tell you a secret, blow bubbles, have them count to 3 (the word “three” is a more natural smile inducing word than cheese). Go with the flow! Maybe your child insists on having their doll photographed -- go for it! Your child will be more likely to cooperate if you cooperate with them.  Do your best to shift your own mentality to “Loving Photographer Mom” because kids FEED off your attitude. Even in my own client sessions I can tell when tension is in the air. When mom is stressed, kids are stressed. Bad photos are the result. So shift your mindset and embrace whatever comes your way.   And finally if the kids are not into it...bail on it and try again another day. You can tell when a kiddo is tired of taking photos. Camera fatigue is a real thing! Advance Technique:  Hire a professional! :) Like I said, it’s hard for us professionals to get our own kids to cooperate so splurge and hire someone to do your photos once in a while. That way YOU get in the photo too!   

Know Your Camera
And lastly, it’s helpful to know the ins and outs of your camera. Today’s cameras are amazing and there are so many automatic settings that are really really good. But I still think it’s really valuable to know how to override your camera’s settings and shoot in manual mode. At the very least, you’ll have an understanding of what is going on with your auto settings. Don’t be afraid! Turn that dial and see what happens!   Read the manual, take a class, learn online, ask questions, practice and make mistakes and try again. Feel free to shoot me your questions about your own photos!

My FUN faves from 2014

by: Tera Girardin on

Often at the beginning of the year I'll cull through all my sessions and pick out my favorites to create a slideshow out of and to use in my marketing and portfolio. Which I did this year. But this year's slideshow I took a different approach... I only used black and white photos and only the ones that made me laugh and were FUN! And boy did we have FUN this year! There are often silly grins, funny faces, goofing off and hardy laughter going on during a session. Those are my favorites! So here's the ones that made ME smile this year. Enjoy! - Tera

Happy Fall

by: Tera Girardin on

Just a very quick post because I'm up to my eyeballs in sessions and editing and posting and slideshows and... well, let's put it this way. October is to photographers what April is to accountants. :)  But I love it and we've had amazing weather for sessions like this... Happy Fall everyone!

Bubbles | Burnsville Child Photographer

by: Tera Girardin on

Bubbles! Hard to resist and so much fun in a session. I often will break out a bottle at the end of a session (so as not to get sticky for the rest of the photos!) and let kids give it a go. Quintessential childhood pastime frozen in time. I love bubbles. Something sort of Zen about them. Still time to book a summer session before school starts!   IMG_8758 5x7IMG_8762 5x7IMG_8774 5x7 smile bwIMG_8820 5x7 smile bwIMG_8827 5x7IMG_8834 5x7

Play, play, play | Lakeville Tween Photographer

by: Tera Girardin on

It's SUMMER! Time to play. And that's what this post is all about. Time to play and have fun and do what you love in the brilliant summer sun! Bringing a favorite activity or toy and letting your child dress in comfy play clothes makes a very active fun energetic session. Try it! Kids love it especially the pre-teen crowd! Two options for booking your own playtime session -- Choose a SNACK PACK session (all digital, easy, quick, fun and affordable) for a single tween or a BETWEEN FRIENDS session for your tween and her group of friends. Let them play together and split the very affordable package fee amongst the parents - priceless experience! Enjoy this playful session...   IMG_9173 5x7IMG_9201 5x7 smile bwIMG_9219 5x7IMG_9270 5x7IMG_9276 5x7IMG_9277 5x7IMG_9279 5x7IMG_9283 5x5 bw WEBIMG_9320 5x7IMG_9325 5x7IMG_9337 5x7IMG_9340 5x7

5 Reasons to do a Between Friends Session

by: Tera Girardin on

If you've been following my page all week, you'll have noticed all the fun slideshows featuring teens and their friends. I appreciate all the amazing comments and feedback. This has obviously struck a chord for a lot of you. But if you are on the fence about actually booking a session, let me tell you why I think a Between Friends session is really important. 1. Transforming before your eyes. The middle school ages (10-15) are such a HUGE time of transformation. Other than when your child was a baby will they change so dramatically and quickly.  You'll be amazed at the growth spurts and the expanding grocery bill. And when you child starts to look more adult than child it will startle you!  You'll be so grateful that you document this time in their lives. It's that "coming of age" transformation and it's a beautiful thing. 2. Activities rule their lives. Likely your son or daughter has started to really get into a particular sport or activity. Their interests really start to shine as they spread their wings and test out their identities. These things are so very important to your child! I can incorporate this personality into their session or maybe the group they want to do their session with is related to their favorite activity. 3. Friends rock. Friends become increasingly important to your child during this time. It's how they figure out who they are and where they fit and who they identify with. These friends might be fleeting or life long. Either way, what a treasure to look back on photos together when they are grown. 4. Friends ROCK! Since those friendships are so important to your child, it makes a huge difference when they are photographed together. Your child will relax and have fun and I'm able to really capture their true personalities when they are hamming it up with their friends. You know that forced smile that looks like they are having a root canal they have in all your family pictures? Yeah, that doesn't happen when they are with their friends. So family photos are important but your teen will enjoy a Between Friends session so much more! 5. Self-esteem boost. You might not of thought of this one. But it happens no matter who I photograph. You get yourself looking your best and have a portrait created and you're going to feel like a million bucks. So let your child pick what they want to wear, primp and prep, hang with their friends and let a pro photograph them. They will LOVE the experience and they will walk away feeling like they are on top of the world. Which at this tender age can be an important thing. 6. Affordable. Ok, this is a bonus reason. But because this is a session for friends, you can split the cost with everyone being photographed. It's only $495 total for up to 6 friends and includes a dozen digital images for each person (same images).  With 6 friends it's less than $85 per person! For professional portraits?! That's a deal!!(hmmm...maybe I need to rethink this...quick before I change my mind!) Summer is a perfect time to schedule a session. No school hours to work around and activities are little more laid back. So let's do it before the hectic schedule of fall starts up again. [contact-form subject='Between Friends!'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form] bookmark backbookmark Front017 IMG_9583 5x7 WEB034 IMG_9663 8x10 WEB060 IMG_0054 8x10 WEB069 IMG_9830 8x10 WEB