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Preparing for your documentary family shoot

Getting organised for your family photos can pose some anxiety in some of my families. So I thought I would write a little (but kinda somewhat long) blog post about how to best prepare yourself for your upcoming shoot. I think a lot of people feel like they need to be busy doing something in particular, but this is not the case with documentary photography. You don't have to be busy or prepare anything AT ALL if you don't want to.

Documentary family photography is capturing your life. So if I came to your house on a Saturday morning, think about what you might normally be doing on a typical Saturday. Some people might cringe at the thought of still being in their pjs when a photographer is coming over (my mum for example), but if that's what you do right now in this time of your life on a Saturday morning with your kids, then lets get some relaxed photos of just that! There is beauty in your ordinary and you just don't know it yet.

With documentary family photography, the images actually have more meaning as they age. Sometimes at first glance an image may not evoke anything, and it may seem unimportant at the time, but when you come back to it nostalgia hits you in the face and you recall that time so clearly with a fondness that always brings a smile.

So here is a few simple tips to prepare yourself for your family shoot.

1. Plan basic and honest activities.

......Or don't plan anything at all and let day organically unfold. It's my job to document what normally happens at your house. So if that is running errands (yes I can hang out at Bunnings with you too), going to the market, swimming lessons or staying home and cooking up a lunch, I'll just tag along. Some families like to plan their weekends, we are a more a fly by the seat of your pants kinda family and just decide to do things on a whim, but what ever sits well with you and what you normally do- do just that!

2. Don't put pressure on yourself.

Take it easy and don't feel like you have to doing something the whole session. This subsequently results in lovely natural, candid family photos. With the longer sessions if you feel like you do not want to be in front of the camera, just tell me you need a break. Go into another room and close the door and have some space. Same goes for the kids. I am there to capture all of the things, the best moments AND the meltdowns but if you've had enough for the moment, just say so. As a parent I also know there is a line not to cross when it comes to kids and their space if they are having moment. I will not take advantage of those situations and I will pop the camera away for a bit as I would hate parents and kids to feel stressed during the shoot.

3. You don't have to clean your house. (whoop)

Yup that's right, don't have to lift a finger!!

The only thing I'll ask you to do is open your curtains and turn off overhead lights (as they can cast shadows and unwanted hues on faces and objects). Natural light is definitely a photographers best friend but if you have a dark house and lights on mostly then we can try and work with this to capture the legitimate nature of your home.

4. Wear what you normally wear.

Wear the clothes you would normally wear on the weekend. No point in getting all dressed up if that's not what you normally look like. Do your hair and make up the way you normally do. You want to look back at the images and look like you. I remember looking back at some old movies that my dad took of our family when I was about 3 or 4, and I was dancing like crazy in one film and then my dad aimed the camera at my mum who was encouraging me and dancing too. My mum said when she saw it "oh I don't know why your father took that footage of me dancing like such a dag" but I absolutely love that footage of her (and me) dancing like that in the lounge room of the house that I grew up in. I asked her why she doesn't like it and her reasoning was because she was only wearing her casual clothes and doing some daggy dancing. But that's what I just love about it. She looked so funky in a little red vest with a big collared shirt underneath and some blue bell bottomed jeans. The film captures exactly how we were at that time in our lives with me in my frilly dress and pretty knee high socks (mum loved that style and dressed me like that most days), that to me is priceless and I will cherish those films forever. Now I know I am talking about images here but the same thing applies. Just be you. You will look back and treasure them forever. And that also brings me another point and that is......

5. Is documentary family photography for your family?

Before booking I think it's important to really consider whether this style is for you. A lot of people do love posed images (and I am happy to do a few at the end of the session)and there is nothing wrong with that of course but this kind of imagery is probably not something you might want to put on your family Christmas cards ( although I would). They are more a personal display of your family life.

This is the absolute essence of family documentary photography. The basic, real and invariable nature of your life captured through my lens.

I hope this helps my clients to feel a little more relaxed and prepared for their shoot. And if there are any more questions you would like to ask before booking please contact me via the website or facebook or phone. All contact is listed below or leave me a comment.

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