I bet you have seen plenty of family photography sessions in a perfectly lit studio, or with a gorgeous background of sunflowers, lavender fields, autumn leaves or other wonders of nature.
I surely enjoy the awesomeness of a colourful outdoor setting, so if one of your family traditions or favourite activities takes place in a location like that, then let’s go there and have a great time.
But if your family is not used to picnics in the middle of daffodils or tulips, I won’t take you there with your kids and ask you to act natural. 🙂 I choose a different kind of approach for my photography and and that is the documentary approach.
If you have been looking around for a photographer, you may have noticed that different photographers all use different labels and titles to describe their work. And here I am talking about this documentary type of photography, so you’ll probably say “Oh, no! A new kind of photography! What does it even mean? ‘Documentary family photography’, ‘lifestyle family photography’, ‘fine art family photography’, ‘traditional family photography’… too many labels! Why can’t I just go to a studio, get a few shots of my family, have a nice album done and put the best ones up on my walls?”
The truth is you might be quite happy with something like that for now, but try and imagine yourselves in 5 or 10 years’ time, when you realize how much the children have changed, how much you have forgotten about the little things they used to do. You can’t turn back time and capture those little moments that made your kids and your family so unique. The way they used the wrong finger to point things out, the way they used to run to you for the magical kiss that cured every possible scratch and scrape, the getting up too early every morning (way before your brain cells ever had a chance to even adjust to the idea of a new day), the begging you had to do to brush their teeth in the morning, the school routines and the amazing challenge of leaving the house with everything you will need for the day (including the kids and all of their stuff), the madness around the dinner table with food reaching the most ridiculous places, the night time stories and the sweet, but endless talks right before it’s time to shut the light off (for some reason that is when kids think it’s a good time to give elaborate responses to questions that usually only get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’).
And this, this “boring” everyday life is where most of your memories will be made! Not capturing these moments when you have the chance is what you will regret more than you can imagine.
And yes, we all have cameras and smartphones now and we can take tons of photos of our kids, but the truth is: you deserve to be in those photos, too! YOU, the hard-working parent, who gets the privilege to do sooooo many things you may hate, just for that moment when they run to you to give you the sweetest hug when you didn’t have to ask for it, for that smile you get for picking the right colour cup at dinner time, for that special snuggle and that “I Love You” when you read them their favourite bedtime story, even though your eyes are rapidly looking for the comfort of your completely closed eyelids. YOU deserve to be in those photos. And your kids will want to see how much they were loved and cared for. When they grow up they should have honest photos of your family’s interactions, a visual reminder of your relentless love for them.
Now think about things you love doing as a family, think about how you spend quality time together, think about places you like to go. Oh and if you say that the comfort of your own home is where you feel most happy and relaxed, I can totally relate to that! Home will always be the best place for creating beautiful memories. Still, a muddy puddle just outside the door can also be a perfect scenario, as long as your children follow their instincts and jump right into it, with or without their wellies on!
Do you see now why everybody is so in love with documentary family photography? Because as much as most people dislike having their picture taken, they will feel no pressure about it, but they will be relaxed and will have fun. Who wouldn’t be happy spending time with family, doing what they love, without posing, being forced to smile or having to act in a certain way! And that is exactly what your children will want to see in your family albums when they grow up.
Anybody can put a collection of faces on the wall, but not everybody has a collection of moments that tell the story of their life. As crazy and chaotic as it is at times, as sweet and quiet as it is at others, your life deserves to be celebrated.
My mission as a documentary photographer is to create unique and authentic memories, true to the way you see and and want to remember your family. And that includes fun times as well as hard times, because both represent the amazing beauty of your chaotic real life and you shouldn’t miss out one single bit of it.
Remember: love is an action and my job is to capture the visual proof of it and turn it into a memory you can treasure forever.