What do you think is the number one fear that people have when they enquire about booking a documentary family photography session?
… “We’re not very interesting! There won’t be anything to photograph!”…
I hear this ALL. THE. TIME.
Let me assure you, you are not boring and there is ALWAYS plenty to capture! It is all the subtle moments and details that happen during an ordinary day that make documentary family photos so meaningful. In fact the more ordinary your day, the more authentic it will feel and the whole family will be relaxed and natural.
Trust the process
One of the most important roles of documentary family photography is to capture the essence of a family and the character of each individual. It’s about, personality, interactions, how each person fits in and how they contribute. There isn’t a cookie cutter look to documentary family photo sessions, because every family is unique and every home is different … it’s my job to celebrate this individuality.
“I was really worried that we were just not going to be interesting enough, but the photos are amazing. I didn’t realise before our session, but I get it now … when we saw our printed photos, with the little everyday things elevated to something beautiful and majestic, it made me realise how special our day-to-day life is and how important it is to have a record of that.” – Lisa
Sometimes there is a temptation for clients to over plan. It is nice to incorporate favourite family activities, but it’s also important to give everyone space to just be themselves, sometimes the most beautiful, deep environmental portraits come from the quietest moments.
The best way to capture life is to simply let things be. You don’t need to worry about sibling rivalry or toddler meltdowns, dirty faces or dressing up clothes, hyperactive whirlwind frenzies or quiet chilling in front of the TV … it’s all part of real life and that story will play out in your photos to make them feel both artful and authentic.
Just remember, real life is far better than any of us could plan for.
Documentary Family photography in St Albans
Something tells me that worrying about being boring was not on the mind of Becca when she booked her shoot. With four young boys, there is always something happening and her house is rarely quiet.
One of the wonderful things about long form sessions is that I get to really experience the different relationships in a family, and I can bring this through into the images, so it was a really treat to observe and capture a large family. The oldest brother took his role seriously, he was the protector and peace maker, there was true sibling rivalry between the middle two boys which brought all the spectrum of emotions, and the littlest thrived on being adored and looked after by every one and was desperate to be able to keep up with his big brothers.
We were lucky, their adventure session took place just before the weather turned rainy, so we were able to sandwich a favourite dog walk in between everyday happenings at home. By the time the gallery was ready, dark nights and cold weather had well and truly set in, which made it extra lovely to look back at the beautiful day we spent together at the end of summer.
It’s so difficult to narrow down my favourite images into a blog post, if you want to see more you can watch the slideshow here.
Emma Collins in an international award-winning documentary photographer. She specialises in documentary family photography in St Albans, Hertfordshire, creating art from the everyday. By using a contemporary day-in-the-life approach to sessions she captures natural, candid, storytelling family photos. Has this whet your appetite for documentary family photography? Learn more about different types of sessions here or get in touch to book your session.