Family Photojournalism

Debunking Documentary Family Photography Myths


Family photos. For many, they conjure images of stiff smiles, perfectly coordinated outfits, and striking forced poses against a backdrop of fake flowers. But what if there was another way to capture your family’s story? Documentary family photography offers a refreshing alternative. One that celebrates the real, raw moments that make your family unique.

However, documentary family photography can be shrouded in misconceptions. Let’s tackle some of the most common ones and shed light on the beauty and authenticity this style offers:

Myth #1: My house is a mess – the photos will look bad!

Documentary photographers celebrate authenticity. We all know that a Pinterest-perfect living room isn’t the norm for every family. The focus is on capturing the love and connection within your family. Sometimes, a bit of clutter adds context and tells the story of your everyday life. Your daughter’s artwork displayed on the fridge or your son’s soccer gear on the floor can become cherished details in your family’s visual narrative. Documentary family photographers will work with your existing environment to create beautiful and meaningful images.

Myth #2: There won’t be any posed photos in my documentary family photography session.

Documentary photography is about creating art out of natural and true moments. However, I’m always aware that there may be a desire for a family picture in a more traditional sense. Therefore, I’m glad to take a few minutes at the end of the session to grab a few smile for the camera pictures. But the focus of the session is those unscripted and naturally occurring scenes.

Myth #3: The photos won’t be flattering.

Family photojournalists see the art in the authentic. While perfectly posed studio shots with flattering lighting have their place, documentary family photography captures the genuine smiles, laugh lines, and general chaos that tell your family’s story. These “imperfections” become endearing details that showcase your family’s personalities and the genuine connection you share.

Myth #4: Documentary family photography pictures are all black and white.

While black and white can add a timeless quality and help eliminate distracting elements, I do also use color to capture the vibrancy of your family life in my family photojournalism. A child’s brightly colored toy car zooming across the floor, a vibrant sunset painting the sky during an evening walk, or the warm glow of kitchen lights illuminating a family dinner – these colorful details all contribute to the richness of the story being told.

Myth #5: I won’t get any photos of everyone together.

Documentary family photographers understand the importance of capturing the whole family. While candid moments of individuals and smaller groups interacting are key to capturing the dynamics, you can also create opportunities for everyone to be in the frame. This might involve a spontaneous family cuddle session, a piggyback ride in the park, or a group effort baking cookies in the kitchen. The key is to do things that fit into your family’s normal rhythms. This allows these moments to remain natural and authentic to you.

Embrace the Unexpected in your documentary family photography session.

Documentary family photography is about preserving your family’s story exactly as it is, with all its mess, laughter, and “imperfections”. It’s a chance to look back and see the joy, the love, and all the little moments that make your family special. Unexpected moments, like a child’s impromptu dance party or a playful argument over who gets the last cookie, often become cherished memories captured in these photographs.

A Lasting Legacy.

Family photojournalism offers a window into a specific time in your family’s journey. These photographs become a legacy, a visual record of your children’s growth, your evolving family dynamic, and the everyday moments that weave the tapestry of your family’s history. So ditch the preconceived notions of stiff smiles and forced poses, and embrace the artfulness of the authentic. Documentary family photography allows you to capture the essence of your family, preserving the love, laughter, and messy perfection that defines your unique story.

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