The thing that makes my style of family photography – unposed, led by you – so different to other approaches is that while I’d love to create a few single show-stopping photos during your session, the magic in documentary photos lies in the stories they tell not just individually but as a series.

Every story has multiple elements. That relates to your family story overall as well as the stories that a single day can tell.

Which is why my work doesn’t revolve around selling huge wall art. Instead, you can buy and print multiple photos from your gallery and print them smaller to create an eclectic wall gallery with a mix of professional photos and your own snapshots.
Or you can have the photos from the day I spent with you combined in a photo album or photo book (I’ve got 3 options to choose from for you). I’m actually obsessed with photo albums, I can spend hours browsing through my own books.

However, while my goal is to create a gallery of images that represent a longer time span in your life (as long as I spend with you you), my biggest motivation is to produce storytelling images that work by themselves.

You see, a good image tells a number of different stories and while looking at this image long enough, you can see more and more details. And this is where documentary photography, the style that describes my approach to family photography, really shines.

Instead of trying to take the one perfect family portrait where everyone looks happy, put together and represents what we think a wall-worthy family photo should look like, I take loads of photos that all tell different stories of your family life.

 

That’s why I include mess and clutter in your home – for details, story and context. It might feel odd at the time to have an untidy background in your images but how often have you looked back at photos from your own childhood and noticed details that are representative of a phase of your life? That can be home decor, clothes, toys or even the cars in your street. They all give context to time and place.

Everything changes constantly and I don’t know about you, but looking back at old images triggers nostalgia for all different things. Documentary photography is not about a polished image but the story behind the moment.

Let me show you what I mean by that:

Example 1

This photo shows Alan and Al with their 2 kids, getting ready to go to the beach in Brighton. The photo was taken about a month before they moved to Australia where Al is from from. It’s from a time when Otto, the boy, had long-ish hair which eventually got cut after they moved. It shows a scooter in the back that almost caused an accident in the house about 20 minutes after this photo was taken.

Bea’s hair is in a braid which is something Alan had to learn as the dad of a girl. Alan is cleaning Otto’s nose which is something all parents have to do constantly until the kids are old enough to do themselves. I can see the makeshift ramp on the left side of the photo that was used to let toy cars and other items slide from the couch to the floor.

The photo was taken in their living room which was the main play and common room for the 4 of them. You can see the beautiful hardwood floors which reminds me of the typical English house they lived in.
It’s not a big wall-art photo but it tells a million little stories to me and probably even more to the family.

Example 2

This photo was taken on Devil’s Dyke just outside of Brighton on a walk with my client Sarah and her family. The girls in the photo are sisters. And as sisters do, they annoy each other occasionally. I think the younger one, Lexi (on the right), was mean to her big sister Arya who then went to mum for a comfort hug. Lexi followed to join the hug.

To me, this tells the story of being outside on a semi-rainy day. It reminds me of a place and a situation and will do the same to the rest of the family. It tells the story of sisters, arguing and comfort.

The little temporary tattoo on Lexi’s arm will be a detail the parents remember in the future as a phase in their life. The bracelets on Arya’s arm will be lost or broken one day. The braids in the girl’s hair tells the story of one sister wanting something done to their hair and the other following suit with it.

This photo is one of many that represents the life of the Oughton’s in 2023. The kids grow older, grow out of clothes and habits. And having this photo brings them back to a single day – one that wasn’t a milestone or a celebration but an ordinary day that holds so many stories everyone will remember in the future.

This is what documentary photography does – it tells stories of life.

What are the stories you’d like to collect from your life? Which images represent a certain time in your life? And where do you keep those images? Are they displayed in your home, hidden in a box, stored on your phone?

If you only have only have these images in a digital form, I encourage you to print them. And if you don’t have any photos that represent this time of your life or a phase you really want to remember, get in touch and let me help you. I’d love to help you capture all the little moments that define your family at this point in your lives.

Let's talk about your family session

Not quite ready to chat yet? No problem, why not download my freebie instead?

jumping on parnets bed family photo shoot

More articles that might be of interest to you