As a photographer I see the necessity in having family photos that are styled and perfect looking. Being able to frame and share photos of your loved ones together in well-matching outfits, hair and makeup set and everyone smiling is such an awesome thing to be able to do.
I myself have a selection of perfectly posed and lovely photos of my family, which like many families, is a tradition from our ancstors, starting with their black and white, unsmiling photos. These are littered around my parent’s home, and they will always be cherished, because it’s a glimpse into who the people of our family were. I love these photos, and I love taking photos like this for people.
However, there is another side to the coin. Candid, documentary-style photos are becoming more and more popular with photographers and our clients. These photos serve a different purpose, and are definitely not styled. People aren’t intentionally looking into the lens and smiling, but are just living.
Sessions like this have the photographer blend into the surroundings of your home, your business, or wherever you might be… basically whatever the setting and activity, the photographer just shoots photos of you without giving any direction.
It’s a different style than traditional family photos, but are still frame-able and shareable.
Think of a wedding photographer, they take beautiful photos of the bridal party and the families all together in perfect light and direct how the people should look. However, walking down aisle, the exchange of rings, the kiss, the first dance only happen once! They have to get the shot and there is absolutely no direction or do-overs.
If you use that idea of just getting the photos of life as it happens, this is what a documentary session is like. I really enjoy taking photos like this as well, because I like to have photos of little things, little moments and just life as it is.
The beauty of photography is that there is no “one right way” to get photos of your family or anything in life. Whatever style you prefer, or if you like both, there is a photographer out there to fit your needs.
For a little example of documentary photography, here are some photos of my guy Eli and our dog Mika on a hike. There are just a few that I made him look and smile, but most are just a record of our annual New Year’s Day hike.