I am very happy to share today one of my latest family day in the life photoshoots where there was no posing or direction from me. I don’t feel comfortable telling people what to do, my clients know that posing and directing families is really hard and unnatural for me.
My job as a documentary family and newborn photographer is not always to make flattering, bright, and happy pictures of smiling faces. My job is to make images that make you feel something, to freeze a moment in time, to tell a story and to make keepsakes that you and your family will keep going back to. My job is to show just how funny, exhausting, heartwarming, and interesting everyday parenthood really is. And that’s where the beauty resides.
A mom playing with a toddler while colouring with her oldest children. The light in children eyes while playing with their father. The connection between children and their mum. The silliness, the joy, the wonder and the chaos of 3 children, all different ages.
No direction needed. Pictures full of life, full of emotion.
Secondly, because the thing I value most in photography is being able to catch the moment’s spirit or soul as well as my subject’s. I love to shoot when my subject is truly being himself, immersed in whatever it is (s)he is doing in his/her own world; when (s)he is unconscious of me and my camera’s gaze, and his/her spirit unfolds in its full richness. There, you’re just bearing witness to a simple but real and deeper moment in that part of time and space. The moment a person cares about the photographer’s eye, s(he) starkly becomes aware of his/her body, mind, and environment and the shot slips beyond the sincerity.
While I still do quite a bit of “lifestyle” photography, I prefer unposed documentary family photography because it brings out the true emotions and personalities of a family. As a mother myself, I know the stress of planning family portraits. The coordinating outfits and “You better smile at the camera or ELSE” feelings, and it doesn’t always evoke positive memories when I look at those photos! Of course, I LOVE those perfect photos to send out to our friends and families, I call them the “grandparents’ shots” =) but they are not who WE are. But when I see candid images captured of my daughters, it brings me back to the giggles or the sense of accomplishment, or the emotions of defeat, the true connections to my children and the events at hand. I don’t only want to remember the happy/good days in life.
Sometimes, the attitudes and tears, the scrapes and fights, the tantrums followed by the apologetic loving embrace, remind us of how we became who we are.
I choose to be a documentary family photographer to provide those same connections and emotions for other families. I want families to know and truly BELIEVE that your everyday life is just as important to capture as the annual Christmas card photo/ “memorable” moments in life! There is nothing to be embarrassed about when your house is messy or your kids are fighting. There is nothing to hide when you need to fold laundry while your little ones play on the floor next to you. You are beautiful when you snuggle up and read to your kids, and your family is perfect, even when the kids aren’t colour coordinated in new clothes!
The fact that my clients cry on receiving their slideshow of their day in the life only confirms for me what an incredible gift this is for the families that open themselves up to have a day documented in this way.
Documentary family photography has a real power beyond just a “nice” picture to go on the wall. We are creating a heritage for future generations – the ability to look back at what life looked and felt like on that one day, to start conversations between our children and their own grandchildren, long after we have left this world. When you think about it, that is pretty darn cool! This is why I choose to make unposed and undirected family images.
If you want to give a family documentary session a try, or if you have any questions about these types of sessions, please drop me a note – I’d love to continue the conversation.