kelowna and okanagan family documentary session, jumping on bedPrior to offering documentary family photography, back in the posed family sessions (lifestyle photography) I had two goals for every session.

Goal #1. Get at least 1 photo where everyone is in focus.
Goal #2. Make sure everyone in the family was looking at me and smiling.

I managed that about 50% of the time. Not because posed sessions are difficult, but because they aren’t natural. Being forced to smile, or even stand still can be torture to children. And it was usually the dads that had the hardest time posing for these sessions! For every session I edited and delivered, I was left with the feeling that the images were missing something – to me, the MOST important thing, and that is truth.

Recently, I have had several people ask me, “What is documentary family photography anyway?” and so I thought, it would be great to explain this in a blog post!Bohn (78)

Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle both significant and historical events and everyday life. It is typically covered in professional photojournalism, or real life reportage, but it may also be an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit. The photographer attempts to produce truthful, objective, and usually candid photography of a particular subject, most often pictures of people.” – Wikipedia’s definition of Documentary Photography

For me, documentary photography is essential to life. Yes, that is a BOLD statement, but think about it! Photojournalism has had the ability throughout time to show truth, emit emotion, create depth, convey pain, joy, love, and fear. That old saying “A picture says a thousand words” is really quite powerful, don’t you think?. Think about an image from your childhood that you love, or think of a photograph that you’ve seen from history that has moved you and recall how that image makes you feel.  On a very rare occasion is this ever a photograph where everyone is perfectly posed, smiling at the camera with their “SAY CHEESE” grins, in matching outfits (and then professionally photo-shopped later). It’s not to say that posed photos aren’t beautiful, because they are – and they are included in every one of my documentary sessions – BUT a whole hour of posing can be too much!

Documentary family photography is about capturing your family just as they are, in real moments. It’s there to document your first day as a mother and father. Your babies grow into children and then teenagers. To capture that scrunched up face they made when they were frustrated. To show the caveman way they would hold their fork when they ate. To remember the way they used to climb into your lap, wrap their arms around your neck and lay their head on your chest when they were absolutely exhausted. To show how much they needed you and wanted you. To show their missing teeth, their messy hair, the felt pen drawings they secretly drew on their legs when you weren’t looking. These are the memories that you will cling to as they grow. You will try to explain to your grown children one day how beautifully messy your life was, how happy, and crazy, and stressful, and loud it was… but the words can never quite convey that feeling like a photograph. Your children will cherish these memories forever.

kelowna and okanagan family documentary session, cryingThis type of photography can feel scary. After all, it requires that you do nothing but be yourself! No professional makeup, no fancy hairdos, no matching clothing. No photo-shopping you into looking like Beyonce five minutes after she gave birth, (because c’mon, who really looks that good?). I will not judge your messy house, or if you have crayon all over your walls. I won’t judge your children when they say things so embarrassing that you wish you would disappear on the spot. After all, this is real life, and real life is just crazy. And don’t worry about not having that picture perfect image for grandma to hang up on her walls. For every 1 hour, I offer up to 15 minutes of posed photos.


Documentary family sessions are recommended once a year to show your family grow. It is also recommended to purchase an album with each session to display your images as a story, after all these are storytelling sessions! These albums are high-quality professionally printed photo-books with images printed on hard pages that lay flat. They won’t fall apart or get torn so your children can pick them up and look through them as often as they want to. Imagine all of your albums lined up on the bookshelf arranged by year! Studies show that children’s self esteem are greatly influenced by seeing themselves in family photographs. Researchers say that this may be due to showing a family as a family unit as it can be so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit. Full article here.



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What types of sessions do I offer you ask?

Maternity (documentary/posed) – 1 hour
Newborn’s first day home – 5 hours
Documentary newborn – 1 hour
Documentary beach sessions – 1 hour
Documentary family at home – 3 hours
Day in the life family – Full day


For more information or to book a session please feel free to contact me.



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