Top 5 Reasons You Need Family Documentary Photography
family photojournalism. visual storytelling. family documentary. bringing family photography back to a place it once was, only better. this is what i love to do.
sometimes, i find people will see my work and fall deeply in love with the feelings it evokes. still, they are hesitant to go forward with a family documentary session. i wonder, what is it that is holding them back? what don’t they know about this style of photography?
i do not want to knock the typical family portrait sessions. i think, when done right, they are beautiful, and there is absolutely a place for them in your family. i just believe that it is time you got more. it is time to make a change. it is time to look back to the past for inspiration in the future.
here are my top 5 reasons you need family documentary photography:
5. no one, not a single person who will ever see your family portraits, believes the photo of everyone smiling at the camera is real.
the only person today who might not know about the “head swap” is your great grandma… if you are so lucky to still have her in your life! you aren’t fooling anyone! your 8-month-old did not look at the camera at the exact same time that your 3-year-old did. they didn’t smile in unison. nope… here is what it really looked like!
when these kids are big and they want to look back at our family photos, this is what it really looked like. they weren’t perfect angelic kids who sat and smiled for me!
see that lollipop? who are you fooling? do our kids walk around all day with lollipops? well…my little one does, but that is only because he finds them and no one is ever paying enough attention to stop him before he’s sticky!
we all know about the bribery. the promise of ice cream and candy if they just sit still and listen to the lady with the camera!
you know that hair appointment you had to get your hair looking perfect? that mascara you bought to lengthen and plump up those lashes? i hate to be the one to tell you this, but, your hair is a little frizzy from all the sweat and your lashes are falling off. stress does that to a mom.
now, i’m not saying that during a family documentary session, you won’t be sweating. chances are i’ll be in your home before you even have a chance to put on mascara at all.
but in the story of your life, there is the context… and you’ll see that your sweat came from rolling on the floor getting their coats on. your makeup will be running from tears of laughter. laughter that is the result of you turning around to find your kid looks like this.
4. teaching our kids to live an authentic life is incredibly important.
oh dear, sweet internet. how you have enriched our lives and simultaneously killed our spirits!
we now deal with those friends who only post the amazing bits and pieces of their lives on facebook. that means they are perfect right? wrong. our children feel that pressure even more. their vulnerable young minds don’t know how to deal with feelings of inadequacy that come from seeing their friends and their “perfect” lives. wouldn’t it be a wonderful lesson to teach them, that their imperfections, their missteps, their flaws make them unique and beautiful?
another lesson that is often hard to teach our kids is an appreciation for what they have. they watch tv and see a million advertisements for toys and gadgets and “stuff”. they compare themselves to other kids who have more and feel like they are missing something. showing them that we appreciate exactly what we have right now is so important. it is part of modeling the behavior we want them to have. documenting the story of their life, showing them what they have in a beautiful way, can have lasting positive effects.
teaching them to be proud of who they are and to never pretend to be something they are not is something i want to teach my children. family documentary photography can be a great way to show your kids how much you love your life and celebrate your story.
3. perfection is a myth.
there is no such thing as a clean house with kids.
part of the beauty of childhood is the toys all over the floor. a sink full of dirty dishes means you’ve been playing with your kids instead. bad hair day? t-shirts with jelly on them? all part of my life, and if i had to bet, all part of yours too.
i’m not telling you not to clean your house. i’m just saying that when the kids make a mess, don’t freak out, if i’m there or not. it will give your kids anxiety to think they can’t make a mess! and if i’m there to document it, well that is a bonus!
2. we’re all suffering from a little “mommy-brain”.
most days i forget to eat breakfast. or i might forget that i ate breakfast. to think that i’ll remember all the funny, cute, sassy, silly, crazy things my kids do every day is just plain delusional.
under the pressure of a traditional portrait session, you won’t convince your baby to take their first steps! it is also unlikely that you’ll be giving them their first taste of peas in their perfect outfit!
there are so many wonderful milestones to be documented. so many funny moments that don’t happen under the time constraints of a 1-hour portrait session. bathtime never happens in the golden hour!
all your family’s little details and routines become a distant memory before we know it. we want to remember the smell of their freshly shampooed hair. their dirty little fingernails after a finger-painting session.
don’t let sleep deprivation and multi-tasking win! document your life!
1. create evidence of how it “was”.
not how you hoped it would be.
raising a family is never what you thought it would be. do you remember the time, before you had kids, that you saw the mom in the diner handing her kid her phone to play on? do you remember how you judged her? would you judge her today?
in our family, the famous story is of my sister and her oldest daughter, who was then 8 months or so. she was crying and mister LK looked over at me, and said “can’t she get her to stop screaming?” (cheeks flushed) my sister didn’t laugh. instead, she just leered at him and said “one day you’ll see…”
oh-em-gee. do we see! almost 5 years of seeing. screaming and crying and tantrums… and therapy. we can’t stop it!!! i think she put a hex on us.
i’m their mom and i wouldn’t change them for the world. even when i say i want to. i document them every day. it’s not always pretty. it’s definitely not always perfect. but it is my life and i want evidence of how it was.
there is no better way to re-live a moment than by creating a visual story. these stories live on for generations. they live in albums and in shoeboxes and are passed down to your great-grandchildren.
my grandma passed away this past spring and getting to go through all her albums was pretty amazing. she kept albums for my sisters and me that documented our childhood. it was amazing to see us through her eyes.
this type of photography has always existed, i just aim to make it better. i want to go back to the time when photographs captured moments. when they preserved memories for families. when stories were told with no words, through the beauty of a photograph.
can you do this yourself? absolutely yes. you should do it yourself. every. day. you all have phones that take pictures. we link up our daily lives on instagram. you can find mine at #lksquaredlife.
so why should you invest in me and a family documentary session?
so you can be more than the documenter. you can be part of the story. you are the director and the lead in this play. let me work the magic in the camera!
leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite photo from your childhood! i also invite you to take a look around at the family or newborn gallery on my site to see some images from families i’ve been lucky enough to document! if you’re interested in telling your story with a family documentary session of your own, i would love to chat about working together!