So what is Documentary Family Photography?

Documentary Family Photography is beautifully meaningful, unposed, stress-free family photography.

Rather than striving for perfection, documentary photography captures meaningful moments simply from the everyday, perfectly imperfect life of a family: it celebrates the beautiful uniqueness of each family and its individual members. There are no bright lights in a studio to contend with, no being told to move into the light or put on your best smile.. there is zero pressure to “perform”. The only requirement is to be yourselves and do what you would normally do together as a family, as if the photographer was not there. This could mean that the photographer comes to spend time with you at home, capturing unposed memories of your family life together, or it could mean joining you on a family day out, perhaps to the zoo, the beach or even a birthday party.

Perfect for the camera-shy or those who find if difficult to engage

This type of photography is perfect for families with camera shy members or for those reluctant / unable to engage in traditional photography sessions, as the photographer is basically a “fly on the wall” – the aim is to forget that they are even there at all and this is when the magic happens. (See my separate blog post on SEND families). In my opinion, for the family being photographed, it is the easiest, most stress-free type of family photography there is, resulting in such beautifully unique, meaningful and real images.

No need to dress up or clean the house

During a documentary photography session, a specialist photographer joins you for a section of your day, up to a whole day (“day-in-the-life”) and they simply photograph your life as it unfurls in front of the camera. You carry on with your morning in PJs, your lunch, baking together, the trip to the ice cream shop, a water fight in the garden, dancing the rain, bath time, toothbrushing, storytime, bed… whatever your family normally do and the job of the photographer is to find the beauty in these moments and create storytelling images from them which you will treasure for years to come. There’s no need to dress up, tidy the house or even put on any makeup if you don’t want to.

Perhaps it is hard to imagine treasuring these mundane, everyday moments… you’d be surprised at how beautiful they are: it’s a celebration of life, of being together and the love that you have for each other.

Finding beauty in the everyday moments

documentary family photography session is a type of photo shoot which you may never have dreamed of booking, until you see the photographs of someone else’s “everyday” and see just how beautiful it really is. These are the moments you will miss when your children are all grown up. These are the moments in life which are exhausting yes, but which will make your heart ache when they are gone. Children marvelling at the washing going round and round the machine, needing help tying their shoe laces, wanting stories at bedtime, or to snuggle up to go to sleep. These are all things to hold close for years to come and remember.

Capturing the reality of parenting – the exhaustion, the sweetness, the unconditional love

This type of photography is a way of preserving how it feels to be here, right now in your life. To be present and get in the frame, for your child(ren). To remember how hard it is: the exhaustion, the relentless parenting, but also the amazing, unconditional love, the sweetness, the emerging characters in your small people, the tight cuddles and all the moments and emotions in between. The time when they hand you a daisy they have thoughtfully picked from your front garden. The time they feel so pleased with themselves for doing up their zip by themselves. The amazing belly laughs when they squirt water at you from the bath as you stick your head round the door. The time they request Mr Messy as a bedtime story for the 100th time and their happy, appreciative gaze as they snuggle their head into your neck as you read it to them. These are all the kinds of moments that a documentary photographer looks for when photographing a family and all the moments you will treasure when you look back

I am a parent of young children myself

As a parent of 3 young children myself (aged 10, 5 and 3), I know just how busy, exhausting and relentless parenthood is. It’s so difficult (often impossible) to just stop and take a look around, to appreciate what you have and what you will miss when this is all over. A documentary family photography session can provide a beautiful keepsake of the stage you are at right now, which can be revisited whenever you feel the need. often families book sessions on a yearly basis and by doing this, they have an amazing record of their child(ren) as they grow, year after year. Children change so fast, and it’s so special to record the different phases that your family go through, with professional imagery, creating a precious, heart-wrenchingly real record of their childhood.

Choose the photographer that’s right for you

A Documentary family photographer needs to be skilled at photographing in constantly changing conditions – light to dark, fast to slow, knowing when to capture the moments and when to wait. The angles to use. They need to know how to make the most of the natural light presented to them. They have often undergone extensive training and / or mentorship and invested in equipment that can cope with the situations they find themselves in. They take thousands of images during their time with your family, which later they will go over individually and pick out the very best to turn into beautiful artwork of your family.

Beautifully real memories

It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone bursts into tears at the viewing of their slideshow of images (as many do), but thinking about it, it really is not so surprising at all. Strange as it may seem, the most mundane moments in life can simply make the most precious memories and pieced all together into a story of your family, by a skilled documentary photographer, it can be one of the most amazing investments you will ever make for yourself and your family.

If you would like to talk through ideas for a beautifully meaningful, stress-free photography session capturing your unique family story do drop me an email or give me a call and I can talk you through how it all works. 

Very best wishes,


P.s. Do you have a member of the family with special needs or disabilities?
Have a read through my blog post on photography for SEND families to see how I can tailor my sessions to help. Or feel free to get in touch if you would like to talk it through.

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