Walk through a documentary family session with me! {Nebraska Documentary Photographer}

Instead of doing my typical "check out this session" blog for the Bergens, I decided to use it as an example of what a documentary family session (at least with me) looks like.  Like I've said before, these two hour sessions do technically lean more towards lifestyle, but these are still real family moments. 

Originally, Jami wanted family photos in front of an old barn. I love old barns, so it would've been the perfect backdrop for portraits, but I also wanted a little bit more interaction between their family.  So, I sent Jami my Session Guide and asked if we could do something like s'mores by the barn also. A few days later, Jami wrote back and said she changed her mind - could we now do the session at their house so I could document their life right now? I squealed and of course said yes.  (To read my session guide, sign up with your email to the right!  It will be sent to you immediately, along with some other goodies following within a few days).

Jami had a list of things she wanted me to take photos of, so we started out with the family just hanging out in the living room.  While the focus was on their middle daughter playing guitar, I also love to capture other moments while they are happening.

documentary guitar playing
documentary/lifestyle couple
doumentary/lifestyle family photography

Once I feel that I have enough photos or the moment has passed, I have the family move on to something else.  The Bergens often read together - the Jesus Storybook Bible is one of their favorites - so I had them scoot closer together on the couch and actually read the story.

documentary/lifestyle reading together
documentary lifestyle reading together
documentary lifestyle reading together

By this time, the kids wanted to be up and moving, so AJ and Jami suggested dancing in the kitchen. The kids told me that their parents dance every time one of their favorite songs come on!  I love it!

documentary dancing in kitchen
couple dancing
documentary dad dancing with daughter

Even though the activity itself is staged - the photos are not.  I rarely ask someone to do something again or to do something a certain way.  I may direct you into the good light, but that's about as far as I go! I love to let you be yourself and that's when good things happen.

lifestyle daughter watching parents dance

I love details too.  Hands, books, even just how the light hits a kitchen sink.  

light hitting kitchen sink

Another family activity the Bergen's enjoy is being active outside - frisbee, riding bikes, taking walks together, gardening, and so on.  We spent quite a bit of time outside while the kids played and had lots of fun!

One of my goals in a session is to capture several portraits that aren't really portraits.  None of these are posed, but they would be gorgeous hanging on a wall. Personalities shine through and expressions are genuine if people (especially kids) aren't completely camera-aware.

Some of my favorite photos always end up being the in-between moments. I'm always watching and shooting, even when there's seemingly nothing going on.

Jami wanted to be sure that I captured each of the kids' interests (guitar, climbing rope, soccer, and drawing) plus their family prayer time, so we headed back inside. (By the way, it does feel a bit weird to take photos while a family is praying...I felt like I needed to bow my head too!).

I also understand how important it is to have family portraits with everyone looking at the camera, so in the middle of the session, we paused for about 10 minutes of portraits.  I especially like doing this with families with young kids - the kids have had a chance to run around and wear off some of their excitement and have also gotten used to me and the camera.  

And that was a session!  Did you notice that everyone changed clothes halfway through?  Jami had told me a few days earlier that one daughter wanted to wear a certain outfit.  At first, she wanted to tell her no, but then she realized that she could wear it for part of the session - after all, it's what she is comfortable in!

A session like this is $350 and includes a downloadable digital gallery of the best photos and a 12x8 linen photo book with the best images.  The book is gorgeous and is a great family keepsake.  Again, to learn more about a session - sign up for the Session Guide on the right or click Sessions at the top!