I am absolutely loving expanding my business into documentary family photography! Even though my approach to photography is the same, there is something really good about just focusing on a small unit of the family; for example, Mum, Dad, and the kids.
My shortest family photoshoot lasts for two hours and it’s a great way to create a series of images that can show how the family members interact with each other. This is exactly the photography session that I provided to the Thomas family in Southport. As a first session, two hours is just right to understand if you like this documentary approach to family photography and the results that it delivers. The next option is a four hour session, and beyond that it’s worth thinking about a full “day in the life” photoshoot.
The Thomas family’s photoshoot was relaxed and meant that everyone was comfortable and could carry on as normal – well as normal as having a guest in the house, and that means children often display better behaviour. The photoshoot included moments solving jigsaws, Dad Cliff reading to little Matilda, making pizza for lunch, and a trip to the local Botanic Gardens in Southport. This worked really well as the photoshoot contained multiple elements that the family would normally do at the weekend.
Why is documentary family photography better than a family portrait in a studio?
My approach to family photography shows much more personality and interactions within the family. This is all achieved naturally with no direction from me, therefore I’m photographing real moments, real smiles, and real tears that will mean so much to the family now and for decades to come.
If you were in a studio, I would argue that apart from a small number of elite photographers, you probably won’t see that much personality coming through. You will see your family, dressed nicely, probably sitting on the floor or a couch, and looking directly at the camera with their best on-demand smile. When you’re sitting on the studio floor, I doubt that you’re interacting with each other like you do in real life as you’re probably sitting still and your brain is focussed on your fake smile.
If you go to a studio for your family photoshoot, you’re probably going to purchase one or two images from the selection offered to you. I don’t believe that works so well for documentary family photography. For the family photography in Southport, the Thomas family chose a package with all the edited digital photographs and that way they knew that didn’t need to just pick one or two images. This makes complete sense because the Thomas’ wanted to see the whole story of their family and be able to reply all those moments whenever they chose to.
In your family photographs do you do you want to see real moments, interactions, real smiles, love, and be provided with images to bring back memories? So do I!