What is Documentary Family Photography?
Documentary Family Photography is a type of photojournalism. It is storytelling through images, a visual representation of you and your family at any one given moment in time. It captures the uniqueness and essence of your family. It can be interpreted in many different ways and can sometimes be confused with ‘Lifestyle Photography’, which is a more posed, structured and yet natural looking photography. This is in comparison to documentary photography, which is raw, with nothing staged.
When I photograph a family I try to abide by the guidelines for photojournalists. These include, not directing the subject (you the client) or manipulating the environment in any way and certainly not removing objects in Photoshop after the event. I am compassionate and sensitive about what I photograph and make sure that the context of a situation is obvious in the storytelling so that I provide an honest representation of the moment. I am also drawn to humorous moments. However, for me, it’s not only about moments of laughter and craziness; it is also quiet and tender moments. I love to take environmental portraits. These are where I capture a person relaxed in their environment where they may or may not be aware of the camera.
Documentary family photography helps you remember the little things you think you’ll remember but often don’t. If done well, it evokes feelings and emotions. It captures not only the personalities of family members but also the relationships and love between you all. It shows the fun, the tears, the exasperation and the exhaustion. To me, these are important memories. No posing means children are able to be themselves. It takes the pressure off the whole family to be ‘perfect’ and happy and there is definitely no saying “cheese”. In my experience, happy relaxed children make much better pictures than children pressured to ‘be good’.
In general, documentary sessions can be as long or short as you want them to be. I offer two-hour shoots, where some kind of focused activity is recommended so that the family interacts with each other. As these are short sessions, we can also take a few posed shots of the family together, but for the most part I will take completely natural moments.
My favourite sessions are Day In The Life sessions as they are purely documentary. These sessions are where I really get to photograph the real you. The relaxed you and your children just being themselves. I come to your house from the time the children wake up and leave once they are all tucked up in bed.
If you’re still not sure, have a read of a previous blog post where I tried to document a day in the life of me and my son. The pictures above are from a half day session I carried out for another photographer and her son.