Since then, Pritchard and Max have gone on long photo walks, which she’s found has helped him better engage with the outside world. He becomes more curious and talkative, while she uses those moments as conduits to explain things to him: if they spot a boat and he wants to photograph it, she’ll explain what boats are.
This is typical for photographers with autism. According to a 2016 study published in the scientific journal Current Biology, people on the autism spectrum tend to spend more time composing photos than non-autistic people, and they take more photos per session on average, because they spend longer analyzing what they’re looking at.
For Max, photography is as much about world-analysis as it is about social interaction. Shortly after that first revelation at the family gathering, Pritchard took him for a walk around the neighbourhood, where they met a Sikh man with a large maroon turban. Max wanted to take a photo of him. Pritchard explained how he should approach the man to ask to take his photo, which he did.
“He was happy to let Max take his photo,” she says. It turned into a discussion about shadows and lighting. “It just opened communication,” she adds. “That reinforced the idea that Max could use the camera, and the technical side of the camera, to approach people, to talk to people.”