Photographer helps children with special needs

March 22, 2014 (CHICAGO)

"One thing people don't understand is that these special needs kids have a lot to contribute to society if we give them a chance," said Thomas Balsamo.

He is a portrait photographer who has been in the business for 35 years.

"I got a passion for capturing the essence of people and I was fortunate enough to build a clientele like an international clientele at a fairly young age," he said. "I decided that I wanted to work with special needs people and help the world understand the value that they have and break down the stereotypes that I knew in my heart were not right."

One of the first projects he did was photograph autistic children.

"I wanted a book project. Sharon Rosenbloom showed up into my life kind of magically with a message on autism and I knew that she had a message for the book," he said.

Since the first book, he has worked on a number of projects including "Express Yourself Through Their Eyes."

"I taught 28 special needs kids the basics of photography and then I sent them out to do a photo assignment photograph something that makes you laugh, something that makes you cry, something you can't live without," said Balsamo.

Leo Milik was one of the students. He is autistic and says this was a life-changing experience for him.

"Tom sort of brought more stuff in my life, it made my life more detailed because like when I got older. This was 3 years ago. I feel proud of it," Milik said.

Recently Balsamo started a company called World Touch Productions.

"We're doing film and documentary work with special needs and other organizations to bring awareness break down stereotypes to inspire people and to help difference issues," he said.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.