Client Questions Answered: What is Family Documentary Photography?

There are sooooo many different styles of photography out there and even more terms floating around. It can really get confusing. What in the world do they all mean and are they really that different? 

When it comes to custom portraiture there are basically 3 main types: traditional, lifestyle, and documentary. 


These are the ones that probably come to mind when you think of a family portrait. Everyone is standing (or sitting) together. Head tilts, smiles, matching clothes, and posed... Sometimes even props are involved. Your session is usually completed in less than an hour since its pretty much the same flow for the photographer every time. 


Typically a mix of traditional and documentary. These are the photos that infiltrate Pinterest. They can be outside or indoors and give the impression of a perfect and natural carefree life. Hair and makeup is done, clothes aren't matching, but everyone is coordinating. Most of the situations are set up, but there tends to be more freedom for natural interactions within those "scenes".  If done outdoors they usually take place during the "golden hour" which is the time around sunrise or sunset that gives off a warm soft glow. 


This is a style that seeks to document your family as they really are: the laughter AND the quiet moments. The good moods AND the tantrums. It takes its cues from photojournalism and is sometimes referred to as "Storytelling". These sessions take your everyday life and preserve it as memories in the form of art. They aren't coached and there's no posing going on. What makes documentary photography so special is that it's a true representation of your life at that time. I know that can sound a little scary...why in the world would I want anyone to take a picture of my little one throwing a tantrum or me not at my best?! 

Well, life moves really fast. Those little things that are so special about an individual at a specific point in their life are here and gone in an instant. That includes the not-so-perfect. Its part of what shapes and forms you into you. And that, my friends, is just as beautiful and worthy to be documented as the happy laughing moments.  


As always, I'd love to hear from you if you have any questions or want to learn about a specific topic! Next week we'll talk about everyone's favorite subject...wardrobe.