I am a documentary family photographer. That means I mainly work with families who know they can’t avoid the chaos so they might as well embrace it. 

Documentary photography is a bit different from traditional family photos and portraiture. The aim is to capture the beauty of real life without interference from the photographer. This genre is still not as commonly known and not everyone who might want family photos might be familiar with the concept.

Your questions answered: Documentary Family Photography

Life isn’t perfect. It’s messy and chaotic and a wild combination of loud and quiet and everything in between. Documentary family photography captures those moments for you.

There’s no posing and no rules. There’s very little guidance in a session – ideally none actually to make sure I don’t create a version of your life that’s not true to who you are. I understand that that might sound unfamiliar and daunting, so let me answer a few of the big questions I get asked a lot from my clients before they book me.

kis in forest playing and walking family photography worthing

We’re kind of awkward in front of the camera. Is this normal?

Actually, yes it is. How often do you have someone with a camera follow you around for a day or at least part of it? I mean, if you’re a celebrity, then you might be used to it but most people don’t experience something like that a lot (or ever). So I totally get if you might feel weird, uncomfortable or awkward. But documentary family photos don’t include any instructions from my side – no posing, no commands or direction. Most of the time, people forget that I’m there to document after a while. I just hang out with you and take photos alongside that.

We can chat a bit if you want to or I’ll stay completely out of your way. If you or anyone in your family signals me to stop taking photos, then I will move on to someone or something else. I’m not there to make you feel uncomfortable. I’m there to document your family, your love for each other and your unique personalities.

What if my kids don’t behave?

Short answer: That’s alright.

Long answer: Kids don’t like to behave all the time. Trying to force them to “be good” is not going to help that. In my opinion, for a photo session, they can or should be as wild and creative and active as they want to be without feeling restricted by someone trying to take the perfect family portrait. Not with me anyway.

Having images of all the crazy things your kids get up to in a day will be something you as well as them will cherish in the future. So let them have a tantrum – it’ll make for a great photo!

My partner hates having their photo taken. How can you make sure they’ll play along?

You’re not alone there, actually. A lot of people are uncomfortable being photographed. In a lot of families, the dads usually struggle with that most.

The great thing about documentary family photography is that nobody needs to “perform” for the camera. Nobody needs to be on their best behaviour, constantly smiling or generally doing anything they don’t enjoy doing.

Documentary family photos show your real life, whatever that looks like. It’s my job to capture the connections between all of you. I will do that as discreetly as I can, without intruding into personal spaces that I’m not allowed into.

father and daughter silly hug family photograoher brighton and hove worthing

We’re pretty boring, what would you photograph?

Boring is relative. Your day doesn’t have to be filled with spectacular activities in order to be meaningful. As long as you spend time together and live the way you always do, I’ll be able to capture photos of substance that will help you and your children remember what life felt like when they were little.

Do you take formal family portraits?

A documentary family photo session usually doesn’t include any posed or set up shots. However, if you’d like a few images of individual family members or one of all of you together for a group shot, we can spend up to 15mins either at the beginning or the end of your session doing those.

However, if that’s the kind of shots you want from your whole session with me, then I would say you might want to hire another photographer who specialises in that sort of family portraiture.

What if I don’t like photos of myself?

We’re all so incredibly critical of ourselves. We should really stop that.

However, that won’t happen overnight or thanks to me telling you. So let me instead tell you first that those pictures you’ll get will show you the way your children look at you. My aim is that capturing your connections will completely overrule you feeling self-conscious about being photographed in the first place. Also, I want you to feel good about yourself in your photos so I’ll never share any unflattering images with you (if there are any).

mum with toddler daughter at home

Can I invite the grandparents to the session?

If you had planned to spend a day with the grandparents anyway, absolutely. Invite them over or let’s incorporate a trip to their house as part of your session (unless they life hours away obviously).

I’m not the one to define who your family is – you do.  If grandparents are a big part of your life, I do believe that they should be present for at least some of the time I spend with you to capture that special connection your kids have with your parents.

Can you pose us so we look good?

I can but that’s not what documentary family photography is about. If you’re looking for someone who takes family portraits where you are all strategically placed, smiling happily into the camera, then I’m not the right photographer for you.

What I can offer you though is to create images that show your beautifully ordinary life and details that you and your children will remember 20 years from now because they mattered back then.

How much does it cost and how does it all work?

My pricing consists of a session fee and a photo collection that you purchase after your session, when you’ve seen your images.

I decided to split the pricing for my sessions to make it easier for you to invest in your family photos. The fee for a 2(ish) hour photo session is £150. If you wanted me to capture photos and video in order to create a family film for you, the session fee is £450.

The session fee includes all the preparation and communication ahead of your session as well as my time on the day and the editing and presentation of your photos via an online gallery. The photo and film session fee also includes an edited family film.

Once you’ve seen your images, you can choose from 3 different collections to make sure you only pay for what you really love. The available photo collections start from £325 and come with a set of digital files and a print credit.

I can walk you through the full process on a phone or video call to explain everything in detail. Feel free to book in a free chat here.

Can we have all the digital files?

I’ve recently changed my pricing for my family clients in order to offer you a print credit along with your digital files. I did this to provide you with a better service than I did before when I only handed out digital files.

What do you do with all of your digital files? Many of my clients never printed any of them – let alone create albums or wall art. Their photos are collecting dust on a hard drive and aren’t used for more than an online profile photo or a post on Instagram. That’s not what your family photos should be used for – not that I’m judging!

After your session, you’ll be able to choose between 3 collections which all come with a set of digital files and a print credit. My Legacy collection, which is the biggest one, comes with the full digital gallery so if you wanted all digital files, this would be the one to go for. However, thanks to a substantial print credit that’s part of the collection, you’ll also be able to choose from some beautiful products to get those photos of your wonderful family off your hard drive and into your hands.

mum feeding baby and minding toddler son

Have I missed anything? After reading that, do you still have questions? Please do let me know so I can address them! Feel free to book a free call with me to talk about your reservations or questions.

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