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A couple and their baby standing in front of still water in Weston-super-MareYour documentary family photoshoot. What to expect and how to prepare!

If you’ve booked your documentary family photoshoot and have no idea what to expect, this post is for you. I want your photography experience with me to be as easy as possible, and I have brilliant feedback from my clients about what it’s like to work with me.

Keep reading to find out what to expect at your documentary family photoshoot and what you can do to prepare for it. Before you do, here’s a slideshow from Missy, Yoni and Clea’s shoot a few months ago. You can check out the individual images below!

My approach when photographing families

I really love telling authentic stories. One of the things I love most about documentary family photography is that it captures a real slice of your day to day life. There are so many little things that make up the connections between you all and there are so many parts of your family life that are very unique to where you are right now. That’s what I’m always aiming to capture!

My family photoshoots are all about capturing your normal, day to day life, exactly as you are now. From the way you hang out together, to your smallest family member’s favourite toy. Whether it’s the messy chaos of mealtimes, visiting your favourite park or bath time, documentary family shoots are all about capturing you exactly as you are.

Planning your family shoot

Being photographed in a documentary style means you don’t need to do loads of planning. There are a few things you should think about and I’ve broken these down into sections below.

Picture of mum dad and baby in cafe

Timings and location

I love, love, love photographing you in your natural environment, at home. Children feel more relaxed in the surroundings they know, and home is such a big part of your story and how you interact with each other. That said I’m always happy to explore other locations with you. In fact I usually suggest we check out a couple of locations, including one indoors and one outdoors.

If we’re shooting outside, it’s a good idea to think about the light. The softest (and prettiest!) light is called Golden Hour and happens just before sunset and just after sunrise. If we can time our shoot around golden hour that’s always great, but it’s not always practical with small people. This post about the different types of light was written for my wedding photography clients but it gives you an idea of what light looks like at different times of day.

Make sure you’re well-rested and well-fed!

It’s a good idea to schedule your shoot outside of any nap / bedtimes. Also if any children need to be fed during your shoot, we can incorporate it. As I said before, this shoot is all about capturing your day to day life, as it happens. I am sure you don’t want to wrangle ‘hangry’ children (or adults!) any more than I do.

Make sure everyone is well-rested and well-fed, and bring snacks along just in case. Photographers love snacks too, just so you know.

A documentary image of a family sitting on a yellow sofa

Don’t say ‘cheese’ and other tips for being in front of the camera

I’ll be photographing you naturally, so there’s no need for anyone to say cheese or even to look at the camera, unless I direct you to. Working in a documentary family photography style means I’m looking to capture authentic interactions between you, rather than forced poses. We’ll usually do a few relaxed posed portraits at the end of the session, but for the most part all you need to do is focus on having fun and pretending I’m not there.

What to wear for your documentary family shoot

Wear something you feel comfortable in. There’ll probably be some sitting, some standing and maybe some playing on the floor (depending on the age of any children). The absolute priority is that you feel comfortable and happy in what you’re wearing. Outside of that, the only thing I’d suggest is avoiding neon colours and clothes with logos or slogans. Both can be very dominating in a picture, especially neon colours which can reflect light back onto your skin.

It’s going to be fun, so just relax and enjoy it

I know this might feel easier said than done, but this is an opportunity for you to spend some quality time together as a family, enjoying each other’s company. It’s going to feel easy and fun and relaxed, I promise. All you need to do is relax and enjoy it.

If you’re looking for a documentary family photographer in Stirchley, Birmingham, the Midlands or across the UK I’d love to hear from you. The pictures in this post are all from Missy, Yoni and Clea’s family photoshoot in Weston-Super-Mare. Get in touch to find out more about my documentary family photography collections and see more of my work here and here.

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