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.

Cute girl sitting with her dad whilst he reads her a story on the sofa

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!

Mum and daughter sitting on the floor reading - southport family photography

Mum, dad, and daughter all enjoying some time together in their home

Overhead photo of the family working on the jigsaw

Black and white photo of mum smiling whilst dad and daughter sit together reading a book

Black and white photo of young girl on her hands and knees whilst she solves her jigsaw puzzle

Colour photo of young daughter laughing with her mum and dad during their family photography session

Excited girl jumping in the air because she has finished her jigsaw puzzle

Black and white photo of dad reading to his daughter whilst they both sit on the sofa

Mum is starting to get lunch ready whilst dad and daughter play games in the lounge

Father and daughter playing games during the southport family photography session

Dad is picking up the pieces of the game ready for another turn

Young girl playing a game with dad whilst she stands in strong winter sunlight coming through the window

Mum is helping her daughter with the knife so she can chop the vegetables

Cheeky smile from young girl whilst she is enjoying making lunch with mum

Natural family photography shoot in a southport home

Mum is helping her daughter at the kitchen table to cut the vegetables for the pizza toppings

Overhead photo of the young girl chopping the veggies for the pizza

Black and white photo of making pizza in the kitchen - southport family photography

Mum is pointing her finger at her young daughter as she was eating the pizza toppings

Young girl sitting at the kitchen table with her mum whilst they put the toppings on the pizza

Dad helping young daughter to wash her hands and is squirting the soap onto her hands.

Close up photograph of the pizza that is being made by the family

Green pepper is stuck to the young girls hand whilst she puts the toppings on the pizza

A young girl in her pink dress making pizza in during the family photo shoot in southport

Black and white photo of the young girl crawling underneath the kitchen chairs

Close up photo of the young girls hand as she sneaks a bit more cheese from the pizza toppings

Pizza on the top of the oven whilst father and daughter finishing putting the toppings on it

Black and white photo of dad making the pizza with his daughter

A photo of the young girls feet in pink tights as she stands on a step to help dad

Close up photo as the young girl is coming down the stairs in her pink dress

Toddler trying to put her own brown boots on

Black and white photo of dad helping is young daughter to put her boots on

Young girl coming down the stairs in their family home

Mum is holding the girls winter coat in order to help her put it on

Black and white photo of the young girl wearing her winter coat inside the lounge before we leave the house

Getting ready to leave the house with the toy pram

The family has just left their house so that can walk to the park together

Family crossing the road

Black and white photo of the family crossing the road using the zebra crossing

Walking in churchtown on the way to the botanic gardens in southport

Dad being silly with his daughter and jumps in front of her

Black and white photo of dad encouraging his daughter to run along beside him

Black and white photo of father and daughter jumping off the steps whilst holding hands

Father and daughter holding hands and walking along the frosty grass verge

Black and white photo of the little girl running by herself in the botanic gardens southport

Dad is pretending to slip on the frost and ice on the bridge

Family walking across the frost covered bridge at the botanic gardens

Southport family photoshoot with little girl surrounded by all the green trees at the botanic gardens

Black and white photograph of the little girl pushing her toy pram outside during the southport family photoshoot

Little girl running into the park

Mum and young daughter sitting on the same side of the see saw and laughing

Black and white photo of dad pulling funny faces on the see saw

Colour photo of young girl on the see saw in the botanic gardens park

Black and white photo of a young girl on the climbing frame

Little girl climbing the rope climbing frame in the park

Little girl pushing her mum and dad on the swings during the family photoshoot

Young daughter laughing whilst she pushes her mum and dad on the swings

Dad is pushing both Mum and daughter on the swings

Southport family photoshoot at the botanic gardens in southport

Young girl being pushed on the swing

Dad is looking stuck on the slide so Mum is laughing at him

Mum, Dad, and their young daughter are on the roundabout at the botanic gardens park

On the roundabout in the park, and Dad is cold so he is rubbing his hands together

Young girl walking on the grass verge at the botanic gardens

Dad walking hand in hand with his young daughter just outside the park

Dad is lifting up his daughter to pass her to mum

Young daughter walking on the stepping stones while her mum holds her hand

Mum and daughter walking along the botanic gardens path

Black and white family photo at the southport botanic gardens

Family walking in the southport botanic gardens

Daughter getting down from her dad's shoulders

Mother and daughter walking hand in hand along a brick wall

Dad being silly with his young daughter

Family laughing together outside the botanic gardens in southport

Young family walking back from the park with a dolls pram

Mum carrying her young daughter down the street

Back home and the young girl is standing in front of the house front door

Young girl with her hands up whilst her mum is taking off her boots for her

Mum tickling her daughter whilst they play games on the floor

Beautiful smile on little girl whilst she plays games with her mum

Mum sitting down with her daughter to play games

Black and white photo of young girl playing fun games with her mum and dad

Family playing with toys as part of the southport family photoshoot

Young girls hand showing in an aerial view of hungry hippos

Family photography session playing board games

Little girl excited while she is playing hungry hippos with her dad

Dad and daughter lying on the lounge floor and playing hungry hippos

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