Your very own guide to making your documentary session awesome
Hi! Thank you so much for choosing me!
I am so excited to make fun and meaningful images for you of your family. As a documentary family photographer, my intention for your session is to create a story with beautiful imagery that is authentic to your family and to give your kids photos of you in their childhood. I do this by taking a step back and letting everyone go about their life while I act like a fly on the wall in a way. No cheesy poses in these sessions and definitely nothing asked of you that will make you feel uncomfortable to get the shot.
I want your session to be fun and stress-free, so I've put together some some tips for making your session just that. Remember, that we will have a phone call prior to the session to go over any last minute concerns, questions or ideas!
If you find you have questions after reading this, you can send me an email or we can hop on the phone!
How the session will work
Prior to the session, we will have determined a basic plan of what will be captured and where we'll be starting. I'll show up about 5 minutes before the start-time, we'll say hi and meet if we haven't before, I'll put my cameras on and that's it. We get right into it by your family carrying on with whatever you were doing before I arrived.
These sessions usually flow super easily from one activity to the next. I am always mindful of the time and how long I'm with your family, so sometimes I might make a suggestion to do something new if I feel like we need to move onto the next thing.
1. LET THE MOMENTS UNFOLD NATURALLY
The goal of a documentary session is to create truly authentic images and the way for this to happen is by allowing the moments to unfold naturally.
Newborn sessions are generally led by the baby and their needs and I am there every step of the way documenting it. If the baby needs to be walked around or needs a diaper change or feeding at any point of the session, please go ahead and change/feed/burp/comfort them.
2. ENJOY YOURSELF
My biggest piece of advice to make your documentary session as amazing as possible is to enjoy yourself. Be in the moment with your family, with your kids and with your pet. Be there, go about your day, let the moments happen and TRUST in me and my ability that I am doing what you hired me to do.
Because this is a documentary session and I am documenting natural moments as they unfold, there is no need to remind your kids over and over to, 'look at the camera.' Just let them be. Reminding them of the camera will change the energy of the session. They will look at the camera on their own.
3. BATH TIME IS THE BEST TIME
For newborn sessions, I find giving the baby a bath half way through to be the best activity to include, even if your baby doesn't love baths. The before, during and after make for such a sweet story (and sometimes funny) that it is worthwhile to include. So please don't bathe your baby before the session.
4. LOCATION, LOCATION
We will do your session in your home, likely using your bedroom and living area the most. If the weather is nice and there are siblings involved, sometimes a walk to the local park is a great way to close out the session. But more times than not, we're inside for the majority of it.
5. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CLEAN!
But if you really must, think of it as friends are visiting – tidy up like you would for them. Please don’t
stress about cleaning every baseboard or shelf, and staging it like it one of your Pinterest boards.
Sometimes a little mess tells a good story too! To me, it means a room well lived in and a home well loved. Since the goal of documentary sessions is to document life as it is, please keep your home looking like how it does on a regular basis. There should be evidence of children in your home and your home should look lived in in your photos.
Often have books on your stairs?
Is there always a pile of shoes by your front door?
Do the kids have lego pieces scattered on the floor?
Does your dog leave their bones out?
Are there finger prints on your doors and mirrors?
Great. Keep em all there!
Looking back on images from my own childhood, I find myself often looking in the background and noticing the furniture, toys and stuff that was laying around and it brings the memory of what is happening in the image to life.
Please do open the curtains and blinds, natural window light is my best friend.
** A special note on finger prints/smudges on windows, doors and mirrors....keep them there, especially if they've been put there by your baby/toddler.
6. DON'T BE AFRAID OF BAD BEHAVIOUR (if there are siblings present)
If your child is being who they are with me, as they would with you, then I cannot ask for more. Children are often the most authentic of the bunch, their actions and expressions are pure and unfiltered and that, to me, is gold. Please don’t feel the need to bribe or discipline, unless of course it is a situation that requires your attention at that moment. Please do not be alarmed if I document those tender or challenging moments as well, because family life is a full spectrum of joy and tears.
To help prepare kids age 3+, tell them your friend Alex is coming over and she's going to spend some time with you guys, just hanging out. Oh and she might bring her camera with her and take some photos of you guys, but don't worry, you don't have to do anything....And leave it at that.
Some things to keep in mind:
If your kid reacts negatively to sugar, avoid giving them any during the session.
If a mealtime isn't going to be part of the session, ensuring your kid has a fully belly before I arrive is a good idea.
7. DRESS NORMALLY
My biggest tip when it comes to outfits is to wear what you're comfortable in and what you already own. Since this is a documentary session, the goal is to look how you do in your day to day life. This means no matching outfits and no need to wear your Sunday best. The goal of these photos is to tell a story and accurately portray your family life and one way of helping this is by wearing clothes that everyone loves. Choose that outfit you wear all the time that your kids will remember you wearing. Do your hair and makeup how you always do. If you are self conscious of your nails, please get a manicure if you can. Your hands will be in a lot of the photos. (This goes for dad's too!)
For kids, I think it's best if they can choose their own outfits. They will be so much happier when they love what they're wearing!
Select yours and your partners (and kids if they can't choose themselves) outfits a few days before the session so everyone is on the same page of what they'll be wearing.
FOR MATERNITY SESSIONS:
- please avoid outfits entirely of black as it tends to hide the bump in photos
FOR NEWBORN SESSIONS:
- please wear something that is comfortable to sit in
- please wear a top that is easy to breastfeed in if you are nursing
8. CONSIDER THE FINISHED PRODUCT.
Think about what you want to do with your photos. Are they for sharing online with family? Printing in a book or album? A set of framed prints? I bring this up because with documentary sessions, you will probably not get the traditional everyone-smiling-at-the-camera portrait your relatives expect on a Christmas card. You will have a set of images that works together as a fluid collection, but it may be difficult to pick out one to hang on the wall as representative of your whole family. As a special gift, if you’d like, we can do a quick 5-10 minute mini-mini session to close out your documentary session, probably just in front of your home. It allows to get some more classic photos of you all smiling and facing the camera before we finish. And you can even change into coordinating clothes. Just let me know at the start of the session I this is something you'd like.
After Your Session
1. GET EXCITED
After your session, I will get to work on culling your images down to the very best of the best, (typically 40-100 depending on the length of session). Then editing those images and getting them into your gallery.
Once they're ready, I'll be in touch and will deliver your finished gallery to you.
2. DOWNLOADING YOUR FILES
The process is simple: select the images and use the down arrow in the upper right corner of your gallery - click on that and the system will walk you through the download process. The images will download as a zip file, which you can double-click on to expand. I suggest you make a second copy of the expanded files, then save the two copies to two different locations - I generally recommend that one copy be saved to an easily accessible drive (either on your computer or on an external hard drive), and that the other get saved to the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.).
3. COPYRIGHTS (AND WRONGS)
Once you’ve got your digital files in hand, you are free to print them when, where, and as often as you
wish - you can use them to make holiday cards, share on your social media pages or personal blog, etc.
The only things you can’t do are related to the resale of your photos or use for commercial/business
For instance, if you authored a book, you’d need additional permission to use one of the photos on the
dust jacket, and you wouldn’t be able to enter one of the photos into a contest and win prize money for it.
Otherwise, you’ve got free reign.
4. PRINTING YOUR IMAGES
While everything that I offer in my store is printed in professional labs and guaranteed to be beautiful, I also recognize that you may want to print your images yourself, and thanks to those digital files, you absolutely can! I recommend Pikto.com for local printing and for online prints. Be sure to de-select any colour correction options, and be sure to upload the original files you downloaded, not copies. The files you receive from me should allow you to print up to 20x30" at minimum.
PROFESSIONAL LAB PRINTS
Your favourite images are professionally printed on archival quality photo paper with your choice of a semi-gloss or deep matte finish. These full bleed prints are available in a variety of sizes, and are perfect for framing and hanging on the wall or giving as a special gift.
5x7 / $25
8x10 / $40
11x14 / $60
These beautiful hardwood frames will protect your prints from damage and help them look their very best in a spot for everyone to enjoy. Frames come in your choice of white or black and always includes an acid free mat-board and framer's acrylic glass. The quality has excellent print longevity and has been rated for 200 plus years fade resistance.
8x12” (external measurement) / $220
14x18" (external measurement) / $350
18x24" (external measurement) / $490
These lovely hard cover books are printed on smooth silk paper (250gsm). Layout and design options are limited only by your imagination, and can be further customized with your choice of linen covers and custom foiled letters.
10 spreads (20 pages) are included in the price below.
Additional spreads (1 spread = 2 pages)
can be added for $25 each.
10x10" / $500
12x12” / $600
At the end of the day, the goal and point of this documentary session is to create a sequence of images that come together and tell your family story.
I will bring my cameras and my talent to you and if you meet me halfway by trusting me and just being with your family and letting everything unfold the way it does, your documentary session will be incredible.
If you have any questions about your upcoming session that you don't think I answered here, please let me know! I'm happy to answer anything :)