About Emily

Hey! I’m Emily Hayes, and I am thrilled that you are interested in Emily A Hayes Photography.  I specialize in the photography of individuals with special needs throughout Cary, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.  I look forward to making your session a stress free and memorable experience!

 Background in Photography
My passion for photography began long before any formal training. My grandfather had a love of photography that he instilled in me at a very young age. My first memories of him were with a camera. We would take rolls upon rolls of film (yes–I said rolls of film #oldschool35mm!) in one afternoon. We would get the rolls developed and examine the photos. He would tell me that photos are memories and memories are special. This message has stuck with me and has shaped every experience that I encounter.

In addition to my grandfather, I had a great photographic mentor that pushed me to think outside the box and question every photograph took. I met Jolene Roe my freshman year of high school and was mesmerized by her ability to engage students in the love of photography. She made the process of taking a photo similar to setting up an extensive science experience. Research of location and content, set up of shot and observation of detail were just the beginning of the artistic photographic journey she assisted me on.

As I continued my photographic journey, I explored different areas of photography including landscapes in Lake George, New York and the Helderberg mountains; close ups including trips to Singapore and Israel; and family and children photography during my time as a special education teacher.

Background in Special Education
IMG_9381-Edit-EditNichole Lynn Photography Emily HayesI knew that I was meant to be a teacher from a young age.  My mother tells the story of how I would peek over the wall into the infant room and offer to help the infant teachers when I was in daycare.  As I grew up, I became attracted to the idea of development and children made learning complex milestones look easy.  (Let’s be real, learning to walk is tough; yet, children fall and get back up to do it again.)

I worked in every type of childcare one could think of without a teaching degree–daycare centers, preschools, summer camps and after school programs.  I even reworked my senior of year high school schedule to have my classes end early to get to work extra hours at the local JCC daycare center.  One would have thought that this would have been the sign I needed to go to college for education.  Instead, I headed off to SUNY Buffalo and received a B.S. in Business Administration (concentration in marketing) and minor in Sociology.  As graduation quickly approached (four years can just fly by when shuffling through Buffalo), I was left with a blank answer when asked, “what are you going to do after graduation?”  This was my chance! I decided it was time to do something that I was truly passionate about.  I traded Buffalo wings for a Garbage Plate and attended the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester.  While in Rochester, I was immersed in every aspect of early childhood education and inclusion.  My professors opened my mind to how important it is to nourish a young mind while caring for basic needs and that under no circumstance should a student never be in his or her least restrictive environment.

During my second year of graduate school, I worked at a local, private dual-curriculum school as a kindergarten teacher.  Throughout the year, I would take photos of the students working, playing and making memories.  These photos then traveled to Israel, during an exchange program.  These photos connected the two kindergarten classrooms and solidified the saying that my grandfather instilled into me.  In August, 2012, I headed to North Carolina where I was given the great opportunity to work with a very special group of preschool students.  The classroom was called a low-incidence preschool, but my students had high expectations for what their day looked like.  They opened my eyes to the importance of the little things in life like the twinkle of Christmas lights, the squishy feeling of play dough and the sound of a ball as it is rolled against the wall.  Due to the fact that many of them could not communicate verbally, I used photos to communicate with their families about exactly what our daily activities looked like.  Parents expressed their appreciation daily for these photos.

Bringing Two Passions Together

Behind The ScenesIn fall 2014, my sweet daughter was born and I decided that it was best for me to hang up my teaching hat for a bit and focus on my mommy hat.  As I spent more time in the community with her, I heard the same comments over and over again from parents of children with special needs.  They were not able to call any photographer that understood their child’s special needs, whether it was special communication needs, physical modifications or social accommodations.   With that, Emily A Hayes Photography was born!  I have created more than just an understanding of your child’s needs, but a program to assist in preparing your child for the experience of having his or her photo taken.  Visit Social Stories and Accommodations for more information about this program.