When Sarah initially contacted me about having a documentary family session she told me that her father was a photojournalist. Immediately I felt excited, she had been brought up surrounded by meaningful photography. I knew that she intrinsically understood the value of documentary family photography, and the important place that photographs hold as family heirlooms … and she has horses, I couldn’t wait!
Documentary family photography in Harpenden, Hertfordshire
I adored spending time with Sarah and her family! Because I spent half a day with the family, I had time to observe them intimately. Finding out what their home life was really like, allowed me to authentically document their everyday routines and rituals, and how they interacted as a family unit.
When I arrived early on Saturday morning, Sarah’s oldest son was already dressed in his wellies. He was having his sleeves rolled up, ready for some ‘hard work’ digging in the sandpit. Their typical weekend centred around getting dirty on a woodland walk, mucking out the horses and working up an appetite for the customary family lunch. Together they cooked up scrambled egg and grated tomatoes, a tradition dating back to their Spanish wedding breakfast. Exhausted from the morning’s activities the boys settled down for afternoon naps, my cue to say goodbye.
Why documenting the everyday is important
It was so lovely to watch and photograph the family spend time together. Looking back, the walk we took through the woods opposite their home feels especially poignant. It’s a walk that Sarah was keen to capture as it was part of their everyday routine. When I went back to deliver all their frames, the landscape looked different. Tragically, and without warning, the land owner had decided to chop down the woods. The photos we made that day had taken on an even greater significance, because that special part of their daily life had been erased forever. The first thing Sarah said to me was how upset she felt. She was so grateful that we had captured this part of their story for them to look back on and remember fondly.
This is exactly why everyone needs documentary family photoshoots! When you’re in the thick of it, parenting young kids with all hands on deck, it feels never ending. But the thing is, life has a habit of changing without warning. Memories fade and when life moves on you ache to remember how things used to feel. Authentically documented family life brings back all the lost memories.
If you would like to find out more about documentary family sessions, click here.
Emma Collins in an international award-winning documentary family photographer in Harpenden and St Albans specialising in creating art from the everyday. She captures natural, candid, storytelling family photos with her contemporary day-in-the-life approach. If this has whet your appetite for documentary family photography, learn more about different types of sessions here or get in touch to book your very own session.