Life with boys | Why everyday stories are anything but boring | St Albans Family Photography

Jan 20, 2023

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.

documentary family photography capturing life at home in the kitchen Arguments at dinner time captured by documentary family photographer Emma Collins Boy refusing to eat spaghetti - real life photoshoot St Albans, Emma Collins Colour theory, creative red and green portrait of boy and dog Toddler in football kit eating biscuits and putting dirty fingerprints on windows Boy sneaking in to the snack cupboard with dad, candid capture, documentary photographer Emma Collins Detail of boy, dirty legs and finger in sock, reportage family photography session St Albans Natural portrait of toddler with mum kissing him by documentary family photographer Emma Collins Photo of toddler sulking in blue and grey tones Family of 6 queuing to get in the car, real life family documentary photography UK Brothers running on dog walk on Family documentary photo session in St Albans Brothers playing piggy back unposed family photography by Emma Collins Abstract of 4 brothers blond hair, creative contemporary family photography Boy having tantrum real life documentary family photoshoot UK Boy carrying baby brother with pen on his hand, detail photo from a documentary family photoshoot Brothers running and jumping on documentary family photography session St Albans Big brothers helping baby brother sweet moment on family documentary photography session in St Albans Muddy shoes in puddle detail photo from family photoshoot St Albans Baby brother tryes to keep up with his 3 big brothers on a family photoshoot in St Albans with photographer Emma Collins Close up of mum cuddling son, tender natural portrait moment, documentary family photography Big brother stroking baby brothers hair, tender moment captured on documentary family photoshoot by Emma Collins Family walk in Heartwood Forest St Albans - unposed family photography Baby trying to escape, funny photo from documentary family photography session UK Using Reflections by documentary family photographer Emma CollinsBaby going to sleep in cot at the end of a day in the life family photo shoot

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.


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Reading upside down quirky kids portraits full of character by Emma Collins


A place where I share my musings on photography and art, life and parenting, tips and tricks, and anything else that tickles my fancy ... it's so interesting you'll want to read it upside down!


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