On Monday, I had some photographs taken for my websites and some other forthcoming projects, by a local professional photographer. I have added pictures to each of my four sites.
For many people with spastic forms of cerebral palsy, it can be challenging to get good quality photographs taken, because of our tendency to flinch and to blink in response to camera flash and to camera noise. The solution, it seems, is persistence and a little ingenuity. I am grateful to Matt (Matthew Seed Photography, Manchester) for having plenty of both.
Matt’s first idea was to use constant background lighting, which was bright enough to make the flash less noticeable. Filters fitted to the camera, and changes to the flash settings meant that ‘lighting effects’ could still be achieved in the finished photographs, without making lighting changes visible to me.
The next step was to overcome the noise from the camera. The solution to this was also straightforward, but one which I had never considered before. Background music, with a narrow tonal range, set at a low volume, meant that the click of the camera, although audible was less distinguishable from background noise than it would typically be.
The third trick was still more subtle. Although it worked very well, I only understood it fully once all the photographs were taken, and I was looking through them for the best ones. Matt just kept me talking throughout the session. Thinking about it afterwards, I realised that this would have worked on two levels. Firstly, of course, a distraction meant that I was not anticipating the sound or the flash. The second way in which keeping me talking worked so well takes full advantage of one of the most basic ways in which cerebral palsy affects muscle tone. Quite simply, any muscle tone used in a deliberate activity, such as talking, is not available to be used in any other activity, including unwanted movements like flinching and blinking.
The results speak for themselves. Approximately one-third of all the pictures taken are potentially good enough to use because I did not blink or flinch. When having photographs taken under everyday conditions, like family snapshots, (taken with flash) the number of pictures, which do not show me blinking and which are not blurred by unwanted movement, is usually around one in one hundred. When we first met, Matt told me that he knew very little about cerebral palsy, but his willingness to adapt his way of working has left me with some great results, and a method, which I can use for the future.
The 2009 edition of Robert Redfern’s signature book: The ‘Miracle’ Enzyme is Serrapeptase – The 2nd Gift from Silkworms, with the title, From Wheelchair To Wings.
The book is available online for free, as a PDF download at www.serrapeptase.info.