Family Photography Genres or Styles have evolved over the years, with a shift in technology, enabling a more versatile approach to engaging and capturing families and their special moments together.
The old, formal posed family, traditional approach is making way for more candid, natural and organic photographic series, where the aim is to tell the story of the family or individual on that particular day, how they play, laugh, run and engage.
The below provides a brief overview of the various different approaches that are currently being utilised by professional photographers. The BIG question is… what kind of photography do you want to use to capture your Family’s moments in time.
This overview was borrowed, and expanded, from Kirsten Lewis in her Creative Live talk.
Traditional Studio Family Photography is usually undertaken indoors, within structured studio environments, where families are posed and encouraged to look and smile at the camera. Flash/ studio lighting are used to control the environment. Images are classic, timeless and sometimes a little more formal. Many studios, both high end and shopping centre based, provide varying types of backgrounds and props to create different moods.
In this day and age, Studio Fine Art Portraiture creates really dreamy images… Images that have been meticulously thought out, lighting arranged to compliment all subjects participating and creating a mood to the image that incorporates a story about the subject… and viola – a magnificent, custom made piece of art.
For a time there, this traditional and timeless approach to photography was being lost – but, in recent years there has been a resurgence of Studio based photography. Traditional Studios are being highly sought after once again – to provide families with some truly classic portraiture, including family imagery, those stunning posed Newborn images and those dreamy individual portraits, where it feels like you are looking into the soul of your subject.
Anyone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s has one of these sweet little babies lying around. Unfortunately we lost the box with all of our childhood photos (and back then there were no digitals), so I only have about 20 or so pictures of me as a child/ baby, or with my parents. Having lost both parents young – this is a raw pain for me, and why I am so passionate about making sure families have, not only loads of pictures of their children, but I also want pictures with parents IN the images WITH their children! It matters!!
I also want to make sure family’s have these beautiful images available to touch, feel and look at. I want to get them printed out beautiful and big for the walls, or to have in albums – so your kids will always know they can find their history of growing up…
Alas… this ‘Portrait’ is one of the few pictures I do have… I think it was taken just before my little sister came along, and makes me laugh because, well, yes, we all look a little ‘stiff’ (and I love how my mum is holding my arms down). I know my mum would have hated it at the time because she was a little heavier in this image… But…, and this is a HUGE but, I LOVE and CHERISH this photo!!! It is the one photo I have of me, with my parents, at that moment in time… It’s precious/ priceless to me!
Traditional ‘On Location’
This approach still utilises many of the traditional studio approaches, such as positioning clients in standard portrait poses, looking towards the camera, but in outdoor locations. Often the families mirror each other, and there is a priority in trying to get everyone looking, and smiling, at the camera at the same time.
I like to start my location sessions with family’s close together so we can get a few pictures with all the family in frame, smiling and hopefully looking towards the camera… then we move on to a more candid/ playful approach.
Newborn with Props
These images have been hugely popular in recent years, and when people do them well, they are amazing. These images are usually captured in a studio, indoors, with controlled light, hopefully with safety beanbags, lots of beautiful rugs and throws, and tons of the most adorable hats, outfits, wraps and boxes or bowls. The photographer will take the lead on stylising the set and positioning baby, to ensure baby safety.
Lifestyle Family Photography
Lifestyle Photography tries to emulate a more natural environment, with more focus on the interaction and intimacies between family members. However, the photographer still controls the space and what is happening by providing direction to the family. The photographer will work to use the light and position the family to ensure the light highlights the scene whilst still encouraging the use of natural poses, looking away from the camera.
Photographer Directed Documentary
This approach is often used in a Family Hourly Session. It’s an approach that will take bits of all the others to get the session started and help families understand the process and what is needed. It is often used to provide a bit of direction, but not too much, especially when time is short. It’s an amazing feeling when families lean into their photography session, and start playing, laughing, tickling and enjoying their time playing together… those are the images that my clients ohhhhh and ahhhhh over. I have to tell you – these are also the family photography sessions where you literally see dads shoulders relax, once they realise the session is all about playing and having fun…
Documentary Family Photography
Documentary Family Photography is a new approach. The images and collections that are created from this approach are raw, natural, organic and authentic. The photographer has to work to strict photography guidelines, where they DO NOT touch, move or direct anything in the scene (that includes directing people, or turning on lights, or opening blinds etc – the rules are clear… DO NOT interfere with the scene, other than with your presence). The aim, after all, is to capture the beautiful ordinary life as it unfolds.
The photographer is there as a witness to ‘how things are’, and their goal is to capture all of those amazing moments without influence. And you would be surprised how many special moments happen in amongst the beautiful ordinary.
Feather Touch Photography utilises this approach in sessions such as a Day in the Life (full and half days), Maternity, Birth and First Glimpse sessions, for those absolute precious in home newborn moments and also during short story telling sessions – like a trip to get ice cream or Limited Edition Sessions like baking Christmas cookies with Grandma…
This type of photography captures authenticity – sweet little intimacies, cheeky glances, people interacting, living and loving. It’s about telling the story of your everyday life – right at this moment in time!!! The imagery captures all those little details, little moments, little memories that we cherish, without knowing… these sessions are all about “Remembering what we Forgot”.