Learning More About Lifestyle & Documentary Family Photography

When you Google photographers in the Austin area, you’ve probably been a little overwhelmed by what you’re shown. This family photography is described as lifestyle. That one says documentary & day in the life. This other one says both lifestyle and photojournalistic. This one just says family photographer! What the hell do all of these descriptions mean? How are they different? All photo sessions are basically the same, right?

Well…no. Not quite.

Since I photograph both lifestyle and documentary, I’ve gotten questions before about what the difference is between the two. So, let’s get into it!

Lifestyle Family Photography

A lot of times, I hear families say how much they love the more candid shots from a session. They look totally unposed and natural! Well, here’s the secret: lifestyle sessions are still posed. Yep! During a lifestyle session, your family is still told where to be, and how to interact with one another. But the big thing that makes it look candid is that no one is looking at the camera. So, instead of a stiff pose with everyone looking right at the photographer and being told to smile, you’re guided into a position and then I’ll help you engage with one another in a fun way that gets you feeling like you don’t even need to look at the camera. We’ll have tickle fights, joke exchanges, and even talking about what you love about each member of your family. All of this helps to make it look way more natural, while keeping it really cheery. It’s a great way to get beautiful photos, and show your family’s best side.

Mother in a white blouse is sitting on the ground with her four year old son in her lap. Son is wearing blue glasses, and blue shirt with white dots, and teal hearing aids. Mother is looking down while son looks at sister out of frame.

Documentary Family Photography

So, where lifestyle photography looks candid, but is still posed and constructed, documentary photography is completely hands off. When I come in to do a day-in-the-life documentary family session, there are no wardrobe expectations (pjs are always welcome), and I am not having you stand in a particular way, near a certain light source, or telling you how to interact as a family. I’m simply there to capture the ins and outs of your daily life. I’ll document things like breakfast or lunch time, maybe we’re all getting ready to go to dance class or karate. From dinner to bath time to a bedtime routine, I’m just there to document in the best way I can. Even sibling scuffles, tantrums, and other tense moments. This can be a little scary for some families to have someone see a really intimate, vulnerable look at their family, but it’s also an amazing way to capture your life as it really is in this exact moment in time – the good, the tense, and even the messy. Those little moments are the ones that later on, you’ll want to really remember!

girl eating broccoli

So, there you have it! Hopefully this quick post has helped clear up a few things for the next time you’re deciding what type of session you’re looking to book. Let me know in the comments which one you prefer!





Learning More About Lifestyle & Documentary Family Photography


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