WE all experience the world around us in different ways, but for those with sensory processing issues, routine everyday activities can sometimes prove a challenge.
A welcome rise in awareness of the many children, and adults who can feel overwhelmed by certain environments has seen society strive to be more inclusive of their needs. Many retail outlets and recreational activities now offer sensory-friendly time slots with reduced stimulation such as harsh lighting and background noise.
Cork-based photographer, Tatiana Bil, through her experience as a mother of a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) has created a calm, welcoming haven, in her studio space, to facilitate reduced stimulation while creating beautifully captured Child and Family Portraits.
Tatiana gives every thought to making her studio, located at her home in Dennehys Cross, a comfortable and relaxing space for all clients, whatever their needs.
She explains why working from a home setting helps to put her clients at ease.
“Operating a home-studio makes the experience less formal and less stressful for parents and children. I like to have a phone consultation before the shoot to let clients know what to expect and to prepare for whatever requests they may have,” she explained.
Knowing that the best photographic opportunities present themselves when clients are at their most comfortable, Tatiana welcomes parents to come to her studio, prior to bookings.
“I give parents the option to visit the home-studio and meet me in person prior to the shoot. This way we can have a chat, they can look around and ask me any questions they might have about their session.”
Care is taken to limit bookings in order to ensure that there is no rush throughout the photographic session. Tatiana is always mindful of special requirements that may be present for children who can become overly stimulated by their surroundings.
“For sensory sensitive children, the idea of going to a strange environment to have their photograph taken can be overwhelming. We try to minimise this impact by reducing sound and keeping conversation at a relaxed level.
“We avoid visual clutter by keeping only necessary equipment on display. Thought is also given to odour and the avoidance of the aroma of cooking, cleaning products or perfumes, which can irritate those with high sensitivity levels.”
Originally from Brazil, Tatiana lived and worked in Germany and Singapore before moving to Dublin with her husband Przemek.
In 2017, Przemek was offered a position which saw the couple, and their two young children, relocate to Cork.
She recalls the move: “After living in Dublin for eight years, we moved here not expecting life to be much different, but we immediately fell in love with Cork. It was like moving to a different country!
“I’m so thankful that we were given the opportunity to live here. Cork people are definitely special and I feel like I belong to the community. I can now say that I love living in Ireland.”
The busy photographer offers a wide range of services including Maternity Portraits, vintage inspired themes and headshots. She is never short of models when experimenting with new ideas to create fun Child Portrait settings.
Her daughter Bethania and son Nicolas are willing participants who enjoy dressing up in the variety of costumes and props available such as superhero, sailor, pirate, ballerina, to name but a few.
Tatiana’s heightened awareness of the needs of sensory sensitive clients comes from her own experience as the mother of a child with autism. Her son Nicolas was recently diagnosed with ASD . While accessing services here in Ireland can often mean long waiting lists, Tatiana feels that, in global terms, Ireland does well in offering access to essential help.
“Being Nicolas’ mother has opened my eyes to how the world and society still needs to advance to be more inclusive, especially in developing countries.
“I know my son is thriving today only because he has had all his basic needs met, access to therapies, and a good quality education. Unfortunately this is not the reality for the majority of children on the autism spectrum around the world.”
With Christmas fast approaching, the bustle of busy shopping centres and high energy Santa Claus experiences can simply be a sensory overload for some families. With this in mind, Tatiana has created a tranquil and inviting festive scene in her studio to create the perfect Christmas Family Portrait.
“One of our most popular bookings is the Christmas Mini Session,” she said.
“These are shorter sessions aimed at children and teenagers. We usually have a set scene and clients arrive in their Christmas outfits. This year’s scene is a cosy bed and children are invited to wear matching Christmas pyjamas and bring their favourite cuddly toy.”
Bookings can be made for Tatiana’s cozy Christmas Mini Sessions and all services on www.tatianabil.ie and on Instagram and Facebook @tatianabilphotography