“I am a Documentary Photographer specializing in Family and Births.” Or if you’ve seen my Facebook page, the name of the page is “Lawren Rose Photographer Family Documentary and Birth”. What does all this even mean? I know it can all be a little confusing, even for myself! So in this post, I want to briefly describe what Family Documentary really is and go over all the areas that I cover.
What does Documentary mean?
I’ve been a photographer for many many years, and never wanted to turn it into a business because I just completely hated posing people. I didn’t want to become a lighting expert, I didn’t want to learn about flashes, lighting stands, blah blah blah. I especially hated asking couples to kiss for a photo! How do you even do that? How awkward is it for the couple?? For 8 years I avoided it. For 8 years my only client was my sister! Sure, I had a degree in art, I knew everything there was to know about composition, balance, color, etc. But it wasn’t until I found someone named Kirsten Lewis. She teaches classes on Creative Live (where I initially found her) and teaches many mentoring classes online and in person. I watched her videos, took a 6 weeks online mentoring class, attended a 3 day intensive retreat taught by her and Jenna Shouldice, and am now in a subscription group on Facebook. She is a Family Photojournalist, which is what I am truly inspired by. If you look up the exact definition for Photojournalism, you’ll find something along the lines of “the art or practice of communicating news by photographs, especially in magazines.” When talking about photojournalism and families, it’s the exact same thing but in your own home. The photographer doesn’t touch anything, move anything, or change the environment at all. No lights get turned on, no windows get opened. It is what it is!
Photojournalism is a lot more strict than Documentary, therefore, I classified myself as a documentary photographer. Sometimes when I go to sessions, I get requests to do group photos of the birth team, so I do them… or if I’m at a birth and all the lights are turned off, I will attempt to turn on one in a different room and try to spill the light into the area I’m trying to photograph. If I have to, I will control the environment, but I will do so very minimally. But it is because of these few requests, that I’ve decided to not label myself as a photojournalist. I don’t want to turn every client down when requesting a camera-aware group shot. That being said… my heart lies with photojournalism!
Documentary Photography is not the same as Lifestyle Photography (which a lot of people tend to be confused by). Lifestyle Photography is still the traditional posed family portraits, but it’s posed to look natural. It is very beautiful and clean! But it is not real! 🙂 and it is definitely not for me!
What can Documentary Family Photography be used for?
Really, it can be used for anything that involves people! It’s difficult coming up with a complete list, so I will discuss just a few options here.
- Engagements or Engagement parties.
- Weddings. (keep in mind, this isn’t posed. You’ll have real moments vs. smiling group photos.)
- Pregnancy Moments such as Prenatal Appointments, putting together the crib, painting the nursery, shopping for baby stuff, baby shower, blessingway ceremony, pregnancy henna, etc.
- Labor, Birth, and first latch.
- Postpartum life.
- Newborn moments such as coming home, first time meeting siblings or other family members, sip and see, first bath, breastfeeding, etc. Sessions typically cover many of these at once.
- Surrogacy and Adoption.
- Birthdays or other parties.
- Buying a new home, moving homes, or building a home.
- Adopting a new pet.
- Holidays such as Halloween Trick or Treating, Baking Christmas cookies for Santa, Decorating the Christmas Tree, building gingerbread houses, Dying and Hunting Easter eggs, popping fireworks for July 4th, pumpkin carving for the Fall, etc.
- Family trips or vacations.
- A Day in the Life of a grandparent, parent, child, or family (An all day or half day session).
- During daily routines such as making pancakes Saturday morning, bubble baths in the evening, or Sundaes on Sundays.
- Any Activity such as balloon fights, fishing, swimming, playing baseball or basket ball, flying a kite, snowboarding, going to the beach, eating frozen yogurt, grocery shopping, etc.
- Terminal Illnesses (diagnosis and treatment).
- End of life. (When a loved one is in the hospital, on hospice care, or during their last few days on Earth)
- Funerals and burials.
- Businesses – To show potential clients what to expect when hiring you, or to show a behind-the-scene for your business.
Basically… it can be used for anything! This is real life folks! It’s messy, it’s dirty, it’s intimate, and it’s raw. When 20 years goes by and someone very important to you passes away, you will dig through all the photos you have and the ones you cherish the most are these. The ones that show your grandpa when he was young, running around naked, or only wearing a diaper and hat. You’ll cherish the ones from holidays, vacations, or birthday parties… the photos where you can laugh and say “look how goofy you look with that hair!” You’ll want the photos that gives you a glimpse in how that person lived their life and what relationship they had with you. These are the photos you’ll want, and I know from experience.