Love selflessly, unconditionally and like today really could be your last day with your child

-Leah Brady

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This was my first session with a special needs child. I had no idea what to expect. I think they found me on a Google search. I was honestly a bit hesitant as I had no idea what to expect…in the end it saved my career.

Newlyweds, Annie and Ryan Landefeld, were delighted to discover they were expecting a baby just weeks after sharing their marriage vows in September. On June 20, 2009, they welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Scarlett Rose, into the world. Scarlett passed all newborn screenings with flying colors. Beginning around 10 weeks of age, they noticed that Scarlett wasn’t moving her legs, arms and head as much. She appeared to be floppy. They knew that something wasn’t right so they decided to seek the help of a Neurologist. On September 11th, after extensive medical testing, they were given a devastating diagnosis of SMA Type 1 (www.fsma.org), which stands for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

SMA is the leading genetic killer of infants. It is a rare, genetic disease affecting part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement due to the loss of nerves in the spinal cord. One in 6,000 babies is born with SMA, and 1 in 40 people are carriers. Ryan and Annie are both carriers and unknowingly passed their copies on to Scarlett.

Scarlett will never be able to walk, stand, sit, eat, breathe and even swallow without assistance. All of her muscles are extremely weak, with the weakest muscles being the legs, upper arms and neck. Her mind and spirit are no different from that of a healthy baby. She has a bright, expressive face and eyes.

Scarlett faces a difficult battle and requires extensive medical support. Care interventions have been established to help with breathing and feeding problems, muscle weakness, bouts of illness, and discomfort. They are consulting with doctors and pursuing any treatment that might save their baby girl.

Special needs children were a part of my elementary school, as we had half of our school occupied by children with special needs. I don’t recall ever thinking they were really that “different”.

I was meant to photograph this family, I knew it in my heart. The light was GORGEOUS, the day was beautiful… I had just finished a session with a family that, unfortunately, didn’t have a real connection. This is hard for me and at times, disappointing. Unhappy kids, mom is too worried about the kids, dad is mad at mom for making him do this…just the normal things. But in the busy season it can wear me down emotionally. I’m giving my all, my heart and soul to each and every session and at the time, felt no reciprocation. Until my INSPIRED shoot. The parents were in love with their daughter and each other. They ‘d fought more battles than anyone could ever imagine…but they were HAPPY.
I had a renewed sense of family, what it truly means, at it’s core. Love selflessly, unconditionally and like today really could be your last day with your child.
They loved their photos and that of course felt wonderful that my client was happy. What they gave me to me was more than they will ever know.


Gear Used:
Nikon D300
35mm 1.8

// Leah Brady Photography //

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  • Krystal

    Absolutely beautiful!!!!! Wonderful job!


  • Victoria

    I have a special needs son and we are also young, healthy and never expected it. I have to say he has taught me more about life than all the people I have ever met combined, I cannot imagine my life without him. Please cherish every day because as resilient as these kiddos are ( and they are fighters) you cannot be promised anything. God bless you. I also would like to add that the best thing that we did was have another child. Our son absolutely adores her and she is so sweet and caring with him. She is his buddy and no matter how tough it is, it is worth everything.. So truly beautiful and priceless.


  • Ruth

    Love love! I can tell the parents are totally devoted to that little girl! You did an awesome job capturing these images!


  • Wil

    Wow. Such a beautiful family and the love is inspirational..rare these day:). Beautiful capture of the love they have for each other and their baby:)


  • Duronda Sampson

    This is the most beautiful thing I think I have ever seen. God Bless You for this shoot and for posting it so that we can be reminded how much we love our children! Such a Blessing!


  • Kelly Bertsch

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have a son that has SMA type 2. Our Holstein are our everything. Once you have a special needs child you look at life a lot differently and he hopefully shines to others, like this family! God Bless you for bringing awareness to this disease and about this wonderful loving family.


  • I cannot thank you all enough. I hope the word REALLY gets out about all these angels and how they change peoples lives DAILY. I’m beyond thankful.


  • Dru

    Beautiful pictures. Wonderful tribute. Deserving couple!!


  • Tina MacIntyre

    You can only capture true love when it is truly there. What wonderful memories you have captured for this beautiful family. We, too, have a son with SMA Type I and know well how special each day is and how important it is to build memories together.


  • What true overflowing love!!!! May God Bless this family…


  • Amy

    Came a cross your blog by accident and OMG! That little girl looks just like my daughter, who also has a muscle disorder similar to this girl. I too am a photographer and believe you caught the love of this family perfectly. Fabulous!


  • Kenya

    This was truly beautiful and thank you for sharing these photos and capturing honest, unadulterated, beautiful love. God is clearly illuminating and radiating in this photo. Bless you and this family!


  • Jen

    These photos are absolutely GORGEOUS! Such a wonderful story as well. This couple is beautiful as well as their daughter!


  • Beautiful.


  • Eve

    These images are beautiful and touching! I love them, nice work. God blesses us w miracles every day and what a beautiful family you have. I love the hand photo and the light and in all the images is magnificent. Lots of LOVE!


  • Absolutely beautiful and touching. Viewing this sessions warms my heart. I can see the love jumping out of my screen. Thank you so so much for sharing!


  • Beth

    These are beautiful photos!! I love that you included her ventilator and tubing in some of the shots. My son was on a ventilator for seven years, and I have so few pictures with it in frame. It was a huge part of our lives, and I wish I had thought to include it. I especially love the shot of the little girl in her stroller–to some it may appear intimidating, but pushing all that gear around becomes such a huge part of your life, it should be captured for memory.


  • […] on IMB!  Roughly 16 months ago we featured Leah Brady Photography on the blog in a post titled What TRUE INSPIRATION is.  It is a story about the Landefeld family and their daughter Scarlett Rose who was born with […]

  • These are beautiful photos! You did an amazing job for them.


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