A couple of weeks ago a picture of a little girl running alongside a tiny pony popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. The image was whimsical, almost magical and it took my breath away. I didn’t know this girl, or her family. It was in fact a picture taken by a local photographer, who I’d started following after she photographed Oscar’s friend Cecily and her family back in the summer. I don’t know what it was about the image, but I just kept looking at it. It was beautiful.
We’ve never had any professional photos taken of Oscar. We’ve talked about it a few times, but from fairly early on, we were pretty sure that a studio shoot would be a disaster and when we thought about an outdoor session, I was convinced all we’d get were a hundred photos of the back of Oscar’s head, as he ran away into the distance. It didn’t strike me as much fun for anyone; or worth it to be honest. So we left it. We have one image, taken in Tesco (of all places!) when he was 18 months old. My friend wanted to enter her daughter into the local paper’s ‘beautiful baby’ competition and convinced me to let them take some photos of Oscar while we were there. I wasn’t going to, but she badgered me enough that I gave it and apologised in advance. As it was he posed like a pro and all the family have one from that ‘sitting’. But that one image is the only professional one we have.
So when, last week, the picture of the girl with the horse reappeared in my newsfeed, I was compelled to look into it a bit closer. It transpired the company, Boo Face Photography, were running mini sessions where the children would be photographed with miniature horses. The 20 minute sessions would be held at a local farm and the horses were all trained Pets as Therapy (PAT) animals from a company called Pony Pals, meaning they were used to being around skittish or inexperienced people (aka small children!). I figured that if the horse was there to give Oscar something to focus on, then we might just be able to get some good shots of him.
I contacted Kerry at Boo Face and explained about Oscar’s Autism and how this may (or may not) impact on the session. She couldn’t have been more understanding. She explained she had previous experience of photographing autistic children, but also explained that she realised this meant she didn’t know Oscar and that the most important thing she could be was patient. This gave me hope and we decided to go ahead, with an early morning session (before he’d have chance to get hungry or tired!) booked for that Saturday.
Despite not being completely sure what to expect ourselves, we explained to Oscar what was happening, showing him pictures of the miniature (or as he christened them ‘baby’) horses and even photos of Kerry. We rocked up on Saturday morning with my mantra of ‘expecting the best and preparing for the worst‘ firmly in our heads.
We were welcomed into the farm and taken to meet the ponies. Oscar insisted on being carried to begin with, but within minutes of meeting the horses and their handler Caroline, he asked to get down. Caroline took him down to the lane and gave him the very gorgeous Mr Kellogg’s lead to hold and that was it. The session was under way. And we’ve not laughed or smiled so much in a long time. Just look at the joy on this little boys face!
We mentioned to Kerry that Oscar had enjoyed brushing the donkey he met in the summer and Caroline rushed to grab him a brush. Oh my!
We then moved to the barn and let the boy climb all over the hay bales, all while holding on to his new best friend!
As the session drew to a close, we started to worry how Oscar would cope leaving something he was clearly enjoying. Caroline took him to see some of the other horses, while we talked to Kerry about what would happen next and when he came back Kerry presented him with a completely unexpected party bag full of exciting little Christmas themed gifts and a balloon, which diffused any sadness and resulted in an amazing bonus shot.
We can’t explain how amazing the session was. We laughed so much and the boy spent the whole weekend both calm and talking about ‘Baby Horses’, which is amazing to me as he so rarely shares memories with us in this way. I’m so, so pleased I followed my instinct on this one. With the advent of camera phones and accessible editing software you might be forgiven for asking why bother with a professional photographer.
I hope this answers your question.
Thank you so much to Kerry and Caroline for their unbelievable patience, understanding and care taken throughout the shoot.
I have not been paid for this review and I paid for the shoot with my own money. I just wanted to share these amazing photos with you.
For more information about Boo Face, including any upcoming Pony Pal sessions, please visit their website