I’m a family photographer covering in Beckenham Bromley and South London. My style is very natural, but I still direct my clients and suggest where to go to use the best light and I also give my clients tips on what to wear. Basically, we both get prepared for the session. Recently, in addition to my lifestyle sessions, I’ve started offering documentary photography sessions, which is something different, unscripted, pure reportage of family life.
So what is documentary family photography?
I think, that the best way to describe the experience of having a documentary/reportage family session, is by publishing the experience of one of my clients. She’s been booking a family session with me every year for the past 5 years now, and I’ve enjoyed each one of them. The last one booked, was a documentary family photography session.
“Every year we take a family photoshoot, usually to mark our kiddo’s birthday, to create memories for us to look back to. Although we normally chose a lifestyle photography session, this year we thought we would go completely unscripted and opt for a documentary session instead. You have no idea how happy I am that we made that decision”.
First thing first, what exactly is documentary-style photography? When we talk about documentary family photography, we talk about a style that focuses more on storytelling than portrait. There are no direct poses, matching colours or perfect lighting, only real-life, mundane, candid shots. The results are original scenes, intimate moments, memories of specific instances that the family will cherish for years to come.
It’s basically like a memory insurance. It preserves daily fleeting moments, keeps us young a little longer and creates a family legacy that tethers us to our past.
“As the session is very different from a normal family portrait shoot or even from a lifestyle session, I thought I would write a few lines on how it worked for us and what to expect from it.
First, the sessions are longer than portrait photography, normally just a couple of hours. With documentary photography, you are not quite sure how long is going to last, usually a minimum of 3 hours but can take over an entire day depending on how things go. Our session lasted over 3 hours and was plenty of time for the photographer to get some incredible shots and not too long for us to get bored or annoyed.
There will be no guidance or posing during the session, no perfect composition or colour coding. Don’t expect any direction from your photographers, simply move around as they weren’t there.
Life is messy but that is the beauty of it. Some of the most cherished moments are usually the ones that don’t always go to plan, the ones where we show our raw emotions and real connections. Documentary photography is there to capture those meaningful fleeting emotions and keep them still for you to look back.
Why do it
Our lives are busy, we run from one thing to the next, work, family, classes, sports etc. Our brains are always overworking, and we are bound to forget the moments of daily life to make space for more information we need to store. We cannot stop this, but we can preserve some of those precious experiences and relook at them when we want to take a trip to our past.
Those are the photos I love most about my family, when I look back, and I see us, and I am immediately transported back to that exact moment in time: unscripted and chaotic, not necessarily beautiful to everyone’s eyes but completely extraordinary for us”.
I hope this gives you an idea of what a documentary photography session is, and hopefully, you love the idea. If you are interested in knowing more please visit my page