Documentary Session FAQs
Because documentary family or "Day in the Life" photography isn't well-known, here is an overview. Day in the Life sessions are all about capturing real life, real moments and real emotion. Every family is unique and I will tell your story, but common elements of these sessions that you could expect to show up in your photos in some way are:
-Parents working hard: sometimes, you're so busy working hard, that you don't even realize it. When kids are grown up and you can't exactly remember how you survived all the chaos and challenges that came with raising them, these photos will be incredibly meaningful to look back on.
-Kids being kids: each kid has a different personality and this really shows up in documentary photos, whether its through quiet reflective moments, hilarious goofball moves, or acts of caring affection. Not only will you love looking back on each kid's unique personality when they were younger, but your kids will cherish these photos deeply when they grow up.
-Little things: sometimes, it is the little things that end up being the biggest things you miss when that phase is gone. Whether it is the fight your child puts up while getting their teeth brushed, the way they look up to you or kiss you, the tiny things that can cause a major temper tantrum, the effort it takes to get everyone out the door for an outing or the chaos of a family meal.
-Laughs and tears and most of all love: documentary photos allow you to really feel the love between your family, even in the tough moments that happen with every day and of course through all the funny ones too. Looking back at your family really interacting with each other in the day-to-day will have the ability to really evoke emotion and feel the love - and that's the biggest thing that makes these photos so powerful and meaningful.
As much as I have tried to describe the sessions here, sometimes photos speak louder than words, so please visit my portfolio and also let me know if you'd like to see an example of a full gallery from a session. Now that you've heard and seen a bit about what Day in the Life sessions are and why they can be so meaningful, let's talk a bit about potential questions or fears you might have:
How long will the session be?
As short or as long as you'd like it to be, although to get truly documentary-style photos, I recommend a minimum of 3 hours. I do offer 1-2 hour photo sessions, but they are considered more like lifestyle sessions (some direction given by me, but still trying to get a relaxed and natural feel). I am happy to book sessions all the way up to 12 hours as usually the longer the session, the more full the story is and the richer the photos (either all on one day, or broken into two half days). I can definitely tailor start and end time around the types of daily routines or activities that you want captured.
How many photos will I receive and what can we do with them?
However many you would like and you do not need to decide until after seeing the proofing gallery, usually within 2-3 weeks of your session. There are options to purchase individual digital files, a small group of them, or the full gallery. The number of photos in the full gallery will depend on the number of hours you book; as a general rule, you can expect a minimum of 25 photos per hour of session; for example, a 6 hour session would lead to at least 150 final edited images in the gallery. In all cases, any digital images you purchase will be edited high resolution photos via an easy download from a private online gallery, within 1 week of payment. These are your photos to keep and use in any personal way you'd like (ex. enlarge prints or canvas for your walls, make Christmas cards, post on social media, etc). In addition to any digital images purchased, I believe it is really important to make some physical products with them (ex. prints, wall frames, a coffee table photo book); you are welcome to make these on your own, but if you'd like any of these done professionally, I also offer many options.
What should we wear?
First and foremost, is something that you feel comfortable in and just the usual for whatever type of day you have planned. There is no need to match/coordinate, and in fact it is discouraged. So don't think too hard about what to wear, other than it could be good to avoid logos/words (can be distracting and less timeless) or really bright colours like neons or bright red (can reflect funny colours onto skin).
Do we have to clean the house?
Nope! Remember, this is real life photography. Besides, things like dust won't really show up in photos. If you want to tidy clutter a bit, that is totally up to you; keeping in mind that even if the day starts that way, it might not necessarily end that way (if your kid's play style is anything similar to my daughter... i.e. tornado)! And that reality is perfectly fine to have portrayed in photos.
Should we plan activities?
The most important thing is having family interaction. If you are booking a session of 3 hours or less, I do recommend planning 1-2 activities (ex. cooking/baking together, going tobogganing or setting up the sprinkler, going on a picnic, sports in the backyard, crafts inside, etc). I have a whole list of ideas I'd be happy to share with you, but the most important thing is that they are activities your whole family would enjoy doing together. For longer sessions, it is not as necessary to have a plan, as family interaction usually happens naturally through various routines of the day (even if it isn't constant); for example, meal times, play time, kids helping with chores, etc. It is great to try to get kids involved even more than usual in the day-to-day things such as preparing dinner, but again, don't worry about thinking too hard about it or forcing something that isn't typical for your family. Regardless of whether you plan any specific activities, it is great to think in advance of your session about what some of your family's favourite things are to do together, even the small things, and try to include those in the day. My questionnaire will ask more about this so I can be prepared for anything you have in mind.
What if my kid misbehaves?
They will; I don't know a single family that is "perfect", and that is okay! First of all, you're not trying to get your kids to sit still for formal portraits and forcing them to smile at times they might not feel like it. All they have to do for these sessions is be themselves! At times, that might involve temper tantrums or arguments between family members. I will continue respectfully photographing through these moments, as surprisingly, you will likely look back at them with humour or in fondness. And just like I ask the kids to be themselves throughout the session, I ask the same of the parents. If a situation arises where you need to discipline your kid(s), do so as you normally would and don't stress if it is a day where you feel they are constantly not listening to you. I definitely get that being a parent is hard and one of the things I aim to demonstrate through my photos is just how challenging parenting can be! Please know I have zero judgement and I recognize that it is a privilege to allow me into your family for such a close and personal glimpse.
Do we need to feed you?
I always come prepared with some snacks so don't worry too much about me. If your session is longer (ie. 6-12 hours) then being able to join in a meal you've prepared is greatly appreciated. I will usually eat off to the side or take a brief break, so that I can simultaneously continue capturing photos. The good news is that I love all foods and have no dietary restrictions so even if I'm joining for a meal, don't worry about adjusting what you'd otherwise be making - just make a bit extra :)
Do we need to entertain you?
Definitely not! There will be periods of down time for sure, but don't worry about trying to make every minute be good family interactions for photos. There will be times the kids are off playing on their own, one parent watching TV and another doing chores... likely I will still find something interesting to photograph, but even if I don't, I expect quieter periods throughout the day and use it to recharge myself for when things pick up again. I take small breaks during the down time so that I'm not needing to stop for a snack or a washroom break when the action is high again. I am also not completely a "fly on the wall", in that to help your family feel comfortable, I will at times be chatting with you or playing with the kids.
Can we get some posed portraits?
I will naturally aim to get some individual portraits of each person during the session, although they might not be the smiling, looking at the camera type - I try to aim for something that shows their personality. In terms of a group shot, I am happy to take a few photos like this at some point during the session. If the session is 3 hours or less, it might be best to do this at the end so it doesn't disrupt everyone from getting into a relaxed and natural state around the camera. If the session is longer, we could always fit it into the middle somewhere, as long as not too much time is spent on this so you can get the kids back to just being themselves around the camera. But I do understand that when you're investing in photography, you don't want to have to book a separate session just to get a few posed family group shots, so just let me know in advance if you want something like this or anything else specific from your session so we can plan accordingly. More than anything else, I want you to be happy with the photos at the end of the day!
I hope that has answered many of your questions, but if you have specific questions or concerns that aren't answered here, please let me know. I'm looking forward to chatting with you about the next steps in booking your session and I can't wait to start getting to know your family so that I can tell your story!