What is Documentary Family Photography?

Documentary Family Photography is a genre of photography based on the principles of classic documentary photography, where the photographer honestly documents what she or he sees without altering the situation or the surroundings.  Additionally, my shooting style also incorporates photojournalism, which is creating a set of images that when placed in a particular sequence, tell a story.  

So what the heck does all of this mean to your family?

My goal is simple — to document and tell your family’s story honestly through beautiful images.  With the exception of a few informal family portraits, which I’ll discuss in a moment, I won’t pose anyone, direct anyone, ask anyone for a “do-over,” or alter the surroundings in any way by moving things, adding things or using artificial light.  


What happens during a typical session?

Sessions typically take place where most families feel the most relaxed — in your home.  However, if you choose, we can certainly venture to a nearby playground, or even make a quick run to the grocery store or the local ice cream shop or bakery.  Wherever we end up, think about the things that you like to do together.  

For some families, this may be their favorite Saturday morning ritual of making pancakes together.  Other families may want to hang out together, reading, playing a game, or going about their normal activities of getting ready for the day.  Other families may choose to do an activity that they normally do together, such as baking or making a craft.  You will be going about your daily lives together, and I will be tagging along.  After a short period, most people forget that I am even there, and that’s just fine with me. 

Because I realize that grandparents, and sometimes parents, may want a more traditional photograph, I typically spend a few minutes during the session to take a playfully posed family portrait.  I also like to make an informal portrait of each child at some point during the session.  This often makes each child feel special and also gives parents a lasting memory of their child at this stage of their lives.

Ultimately, I want to capture those special moments that happen between family members.  Those moments when it seems like no one is watching.  Years from now my hope is that your family will look back on these images and smile, laugh, and remember how those moments together felt.

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What will my photos look like?

Unless I am taking those few informal portraits described above, expect most of your images to be of your family going about your business unaware of the camera.  (This is the opposite of traditional family photography where subjects are usually “camera aware.”)  Therefore, every image may not be “beautiful” or “perfect,”  and that's OK.  They are meant to tell a story — your story.  They are intended to show the tender moments, the funny moments, even the tearful moments that make up your lives.  I believe that it’s these seemingly ordinary moments that are truly extraordinary.

Also expect many, but not all, black and white images.  Sometimes color distracts from the moment and sometimes it truly adds to the story.  I do my best to make that choice and deliver what I think is the best image for that moment.

Finally, because I will only be using available light, meaning I won’t use flash or any other artificial light, some images may have a bit of “grain” or tiny speckles.  When converted to black and white, the photographs can take on a look of film images from years ago.  I think it’s a beautiful, timeless look and feel.


I’m concerned that my house is not (fill in the blank) big enough, clean enough, or any other thing that you’re worried about.

My answer to this is, “Who cares?!”  (Certainly not me!)  Remember, the idea is to capture your real life.  And for most of us, that is not a home that you would see in a magazine.  Let your “imperfect” house and life be perfect.


What should we wear?

Wear clothes that you feel good in.  Think comfortable.  I beg you not to wear matching outfits. (We’re done with khaki and white or denim and white, aren’t we?)  It is a good idea though to wear complimentary colors.  I also suggest that families avoid wearing clothing with branding or logos because this tends to date photos over time.


What happens after our session?

I love this part almost as much as the session itself.  First, I’ll go over all of the images that I created, doing some minimal post processing and selecting the best of the best.  Then at your Premier Session, I will come back to your home so that we can go over your gallery together.  From there, we’ll select your favorites to be created into customized artwork.  More on that below.


What can I do with my images?

First, I strongly believe that photographs are meant to be printed and displayed.  We’re all guilty (yes, even me) of taking photos and then leaving them on our hard drives.  This is bad for two reasons.  First and most obviously, no one sees them!  Second, the technology for archiving and viewing digital files, even on the Internet, is always changing.  What we have now may be gone one day, perhaps along with your images — unless you go to extra measures to back them up — and even then, who knows?  OK, I’ll get off of my soapbox and back to your customized artwork.

Documentary Family Photography lends itself perfectly to customized photo albums, beautiful prints and if you prefer, gallery wrap canvas.  Families should expect to spend a minimum of $500 for their photography experience.  All major credit cards are accepted.

 

Contact me to receive the Session and Product Guide which includes a description of each session package and a complete list of all products offered.