Re-think the family portrait. 5 facts about documentary photography
My love for family photography stems from a love of capturing moments. Moments of joy, moments of love, moments of frustration and moments of connection. When we think of a family portrait we think of everyone smiling, lined up and facing the camera. However documentary photography is different. Documentary photography captures the whole story. Family life encompasses happy moments and not so happy moments. I am here to capture it all. Smiley, happy, joyful faces and frustrated, sad and moody faces. Children fall down, parent’s get frustrated, children have tantrums and parents get tired. These moments are real and honest. These moments tell our true imperfect family story. This is real life. We live it everyday. Let’s accept our normal everyday life and honour it. Re-think the family portrait and capture the whole picture in a family album instead.
Personally, it’s all about capturing these everyday moments for myself, children and family to look back on and recall this time in our life. To treasure and cherish these moments as a family and to remember the real truth of our family life. You will want this for your family. Trust me.
5 facts about documentary photography
1 - I am a fly on the wall.
I am here to capture whatever your family does on a daily basis. I act as a fly on the wall and will simply watch, observe and capture your normal everyday routine and moments. You may be having a pyjama day at home. You may be heading out to the fruit and veg shop. You may decide to take the dog for a walk. You may decide to take a trip to the beach. I am here to capture your everyday life and I will come along for the ride with you.
2 - There’s no posing, staging or direction
I will not ask you to say cheese or to pose. This is not documentary.
I will not ask you to match your outfits. I capture you as you are.
If you have a child just like mine who wants to wear their favourite t-shirt that day for the fifth day in the row, let them. This is them expressing themselves. This is part of their character.
I will not offer any direction either. I will move around your home and capture each person enjoying their space and doing the things they love to do. I am there to document your family time, not stage it.
3 - You don’t need to pre-plan and schedule a photo shoot in.
I can come and photograph you on any day. There is no preparation so it’s really simple. I can come and capture your family going about your everyday life on any day. You don’t need to book the kids in for haircuts beforehand and you do not need to tidy the house. You just have to be you. Your children just have to be themselves too. There’s no stress, no pressure. We are simply documenting your unique family in your home. I am there to capture the connection between you all. Your child may wander off to their room and play with their favourite toys. I will capture this beautiful moment for you. You may be prepping for breakfast and your toddler has a meltdown because the cheerios are in the wrong colour bowl. I will capture this for you. These moments are real. These moments are precious. Let’s capture them.
4 - I don’t use photoshop.
As a documentary photographer I do not use photoshop. Everything in the photo stays in the photo. I believe in honest photography and I do not alter my images. I may crop an image or lighten an image slightly but I do not remove objects, blemishes or wrinkles. This is all part of real life and nobody is perfect. I believe in embracing the imperfect and capturing simple and honest photos of family life. These are the memories that your children will look back on and they will see the fun, caring and loving mum and dad who shared bedtime stories, cuddles, wrestling matches on the floor and games of hide and seek .
Capturing your family as it is will reinforce the real memories your children have of your family life and show them that life is ok just as it is. It’s ok to have quiet moments and it’s ok just to be who you are. This is normal everyday life. Let’s honour and normalise family life.
5 - It is all about capturing real life.
It’s a great idea to plan to capture the session at a time of day where there is a bit of structure such as first thing in the morning or last thing in the day. This way you are all focused on your everyday activities such as preparing breakfast or brushing teeth rather than looking at the camera. The aim is to forget that I’m here and carry on as normal.
Think about the time of day that you’d like to remember. Do you love your bedtime routine with the kids? Or do you love the first cuddles in the morning with a coffee and toast in bed? Think of a time that is special to you all.
Lastly, just be you. Your children love you for who you are. Focus on the kids, have fun, enjoy being you and sharing your moments together as a family. This is all that matters. Family is everything.