“A great picture hits you in the gut, not the head.”

A pretty family portrait is nice, but does it make you feel anything? Does it bring you back to the moment? Was there a moment?

 

Documentary family photography thrives on real moments that make you feel something, images that take you back to the moments that make up your life and your story. When you look at your documentary family photo album, it is meant to transcend time and bring you back to those moments and those feelings. That is what documentary family photography is all about. A solid representation of who your family is at this time in your life is priceless because it cannot be replicated and tomorrow it will change. Real moments cannot be posed and they cannot be recreated but they can be captured.

What is documentary family photography?

As defined by the official Documentary Family Photographers Community:

Documentary family photography preserves the story of your family life right now: nothing posed or directed; simply honest moments, beautifully photographed.”

Documentary family photography is a modern alternative to the typical family portrait. It is undirected and un-posed so as to preserve the integrity of the moments your family experiences. This means you get photos that are organic, honest, and tell your real story.

How does this work?

I come to your home, observe your life, and document it. There will be some fun conversation and interaction as everyone gets comfortable with me being around with a camera. All you need to do is be yourself and let your children be themselves. The rest is up to me. I have often had clients tell me they have forgotten that I am even there. It is really that laid back. It is a super low pressure, relaxed, ordinary day, only this time with a photographer tagging along.

Why documentary family photography?

Everyday life is full of beautiful moments that are often overlooked in the busy day to day routines that surround family life. From hugs and cuddles to child’s play and temper tantrums, these are the genuine, real moments that create our stories.

My mother used to take a picture of my brother every time he would throw a temper tantrum. Of course, it infuriated him as a child but those photos are hilarious to look at now that he is a grown man with children of his own who occasionally throw temper tantrums themselves. These are the images that bring back the memories of who we were as a family. They tell our family story.

Some of the best parts about documentary; no posing, no cheesy smiles, no forcing little kids to stand still, no worrying about matching outfits, no bribing the kids to behave, no cleaning and fake décor marathons prior to a shoot, and, quite possibly best of all, there are likely to be fewer complaints from dad.

Pretty pictures are great but think about some of your favorite photographs. Are they the posed family portraits where everyone is smiling at the camera? Are they the candid moments that convey a real-life moments with emotion?

Personally, mine are the candid ones. If yours are, too, then documentary family photography will be a great fit.

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