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Sing a song of spiders

They finally found a way to get a little girl to smile for the camera.

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

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It's election time again. That means journalists head to "battleground" states to meet voters and ask for their thoughts on the issues and the candidates. Writer Alex Marks and I recently visited Ohio to ask about healthcare. Margaret Demko's family has been uninsured since she had to quit her job in 2005 when her daughter, Emily, was born and was diagnosed with Down syndrome and needed full-time care. Emily, like most 4-year-olds, is full of energy and has a short attention span.

When it came time for their photo shoot, Margaret warned me that Emily might be afraid of my camera. I deal with this sort of thing all the time. Most of us feel more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it, so my job is to help my subjects feel at ease so I can get a nice portrait. Usually I can engage them in conversation, but this time, that didn't work.

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Emily squirmed, turning away from the camera. So we decided to sing. Margaret, Alex, and I sang "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider," which Emily seemed to enjoy. Next we tried "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," but that didn't go over too well, so we went back to the spider song. It worked. I got my shots, and Emily applauded. That's the first time I can remember having to sing for my photos.