Marien Elizabeth Photography – Marien Armstrong

Marien Elizabeth Photography

Special Strong is giving local businesses a platform to share how their services can make a difference for people with special needs. This service provider is Marien Elizabeth Photography.

About Marien Elizabeth Photography

Marien Elizabeth Photography is a portrait photography business for families with special needs in the San Antonio, Texas area. I have a deep passion for the special needs community and strive to make sure that every family has access to professional, dignifying, and fun family photography. I focus on getting to know every family personally before I ever bring out my camera.

I provide complimentary Design Consultations to every potential client. This is an in person meeting at the family’s home with no pressure or obligation to book a portrait session. I have conversations with the family, get to know their interests, goals, and desires for their portrait session. If the family does decide they would like to work with me, we then plan our portrait session date and location, as well as their Portrait Selection Consultation.

At this Portrait Selection Consultation I will show the family the Originals from their portrait session, they will select which portraits they would like to purchase as wall art, gift prints, or other photographic products, at which point I will finish applying the artwork (editing) to the photographs they have selected. Once their prints have been ordered and delivered to me, I return to the family’s home for the final time to hang their prints on the wall for them. I pride myself in being a full service photographer, and my goal is always to make life as easy as possible for my clients.

I have a passion for people with special needs and I strive to make every single portrait that I create one that sincerely represents the personality of each person that I photograph. This especially includes making sure that not only my portraits but also my words and actions are completely dignifying to the person with special needs.

My guarantee is that my clients will be THRILLED, not just satisfied, with their entire process with me. If they are not THRILLED, I will work with them to see if we can find a solution that will make them thrilled, and if I am unable to do so I will give them all of their money back. No questions or hard feelings.

How Marien Elizabeth Photography Got Its Start

I’ve known I wanted to be a family photographer since 2011 when I was in high school.  When I was earning my degree in photography, I spent two of my most memorable summers working as a camp photographer for a camp for children and adults with special needs.  I will never forget my second week on the job my first summer when a mother came up to me on the last day of camp. She asked “Will you send me this photo that you took of my daughter? It’s so hard to get photos of her smiling that are anything more than blurry and taken with an iPhone.”  While my love for the special needs community began in high school, that moment and the rest of those two summers cemented in me a deep love and passion for capturing their personalities through my art.

Around this same time I also read an article about a young man with Autism getting kicked out of a portrait studio chain for “not behaving.” This meant that he wouldn’t look directly at the camera, wouldn’t sit still, and was uncomfortable with the photographer’s flash. The mother in the article also complained that the photographer was also using tactics such as shaking a rattle in order to get her son to look at the camera. The idea of this appalled me, and I knew that I HAD to be the change that I wanted to see in terms of how professional photographers treat those with special needs.

Every family should have access to family portraits, and I strongly believe that it should not come at the expense of dignity, professionalism, or FUN! My heart for the special needs community and my passion for capturing memories for families drive me forward in my passion to provide professional portraits for families of ALL abilities. My highest goal is to make you and your family feel comfortable and dignified throughout your entire experience with me.

I am a firm believer that family photography does not have to fit into a “traditional” setting. Sometimes going somewhere unfamiliar or outside of your normal routine can cause anxiety and make things difficult.  Additionally, standing still and looking directly into a camera is not always a good way to capture your or your child’s personality. Whether it’s at your favorite park or on your weekly trip to Target, I work with you to take photos that uniquely capture your family dynamic. Your family is unique, so should your family portraits be!  My experience as a camp photographer has given me a talent for capturing candid moments that tell a story. Contact me today and help me tell your family’s story!


What You Should Know About Marien Elizabeth Photography

I have worked in the special needs community since 2011 and it has essentially been my entire life since then. I have wanted to be a family photographer since 2011 as well, but ever since 2014 my love for the special needs community has far eclipsed my love for photography. I have said for years that if I had to give up one of my two loves it would HANDS DOWN be photography, no questions or contemplation needed. I love the special needs community, and I could never ever give up working with them and hanging out with them.

In my photography, dignity is ALWAYS my top priority. I will always talk to your child at their actual age. If your child is 25, I will talk to them like a 25 year old. If they are 10, I will talk to them like a 10 year old. I will never ever ask you or your family member with special needs to do anything that they are uncomfortable with. I always ask before photographing that I think has even the smallest potential to be embarrassing or undignifying. I will never belittle or talk down to you or your family member with special needs.  I love all of my clients as if they are my own family.

On the photography side of things, I do have a lot of experience. I have been learning about photography since I was 16 years old, I have wanted to be a family portrait photographer since I was 17 years old, and I have a 4 year degree in photography from Texas State University. I take my art extremely seriously and consider myself an expert in this field. In college I worked for two full summers at Camp CAMP photographing people with special needs for 8+ hours every single day for ~11 weeks each summer.  I have extensive knowledge and experience in making people comfortable in front of the camera and in making getting your portrait created a FUN experience.

Marien Elizabeth Photography Reviews + More

I periodically do Exclusive Sessions. These are short, pre-planned sessions that are only held on specific days. These sessions are cheaper, but do not include a design consultation. Exclusive Sessions are often themed or timed around particular times of year such as Holidays. These Exclusive Sessions are advertised almost 100% through social media, so be sure to be following either my Facebook or Instagram accounts (@Marien.E.Photography in both places) to make sure that you know about them. You can also sign up for my email list on my website ( to be the first to hear about these Exclusive Sessions, even before social media.

Testimonials from Facebook

We are delighted with our photos! Marien came to our home because this is where our daughter feels most comfortable. She was able to capture our daughter’s expressions, and the way she’s interact with both my husband and me. We are still receiving compliments about our photos. Thank-you, Marien! – Cathy, Facebook

Marien creates a warm and fun atmosphere with the utmost professionalism. She photographed Night To Shine at Eikon Church, a large prom event for individuals with special needs, and covered all areas beautifully. She does fantastic work and is a delight to work with! Would recommend Marien to anybody for family photos, individual shots, or large functions. She can do it all! – Kaela, Facebook

Marien has a beautiful gift for capturing the love in families of every kind. She takes so much time getting to know the nuances of individual people and the family as a whole. Our family pictures were so “real” and showed the connection between me and my son beautifully as well as his personality. We will be coming back to her again and again! – AJ, Facebook

About Special Strong

Special Strong provides nutrition and adapted fitness for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs certification courses for educators, professionals, and parents who want to learn how to adapt fitness to serve the special needs population.