The term “documentary photography” often conjures up images of scenes from a National Geographic magazine, or whatever the latest documentary television craze is. Those are absolutely documentary-style images and stories but isn’t what I’m talking about when I use the term “documentary” to describe my work.

Documentary Photography? Lifestyle Photography? What does that even mean?

‘Documentary’ and ‘lifestyle’ photography are used to describe the way the photographer interacts with their subjects. Documentary photographers don’t interfere with the people in front of their camera in any way, allowing what’s going to happen to unfold naturally before them. Lifestyle photographers often direct people where to sit, an activity to do, or give them some prompts to get them more comfortable and acting naturally in front of the camera. My work is a mixture of both documentary and lifestyle photography.

Why I love Documentary Lifestyle Photography

If you’ve hung around here for any length of time, you know I am a big believer in small moments. These small moments comprise the memories that give us pause, bring tears to our eyes, and warm our hearts as the years pass on. Yea, I know that sounds sappy and maybe overly sentimental, but it’s why I do this photography thing.

I believe it’s important to document the small moments because they help us see the bigger picture of what actually matters in our lives – time with those we love.

Let’s Tell the Whole Story

I have always been drawn to this style of photography, partially because my massive family was never to going to sit still for a nice family portrait, but also because it tells the story of real life. While there is nothing inherently wrong with posed photography, I’ve always been frustrated by the way people feel they need to look absolutely perfect, in the perfect clothes with the perfect hair, and sit in the absolutely perfect pose for the perfect Christmas picture. Why?!

We’re not perfect, never have been, never will be. And the truth is, we are the most beautiful when we’re the least perfect.

The whole story is that we’re not perfect, but that perfect is beautiful. The whole story allows for the messy moments, the tears and the tantrums, and finds beauty in the moments that many would say aren’t social media worthy (Why is that even a thing?).

Denver Documentary Family Photography – What it is, and What it isn’t

Documentary or lifestyle photography isn’t about creating this seemingly perfect vision of our lives. It isn’t about in-home sessions, hanging out at the park, baking cookies, or a glass of wine with your love. It is about YOU. This style of photography is about your real life, not life as we pretend and purport it to be.

What It Is

Natural lighting, rather than using flash and reflectors to remove the shadows

Curating memories, not moment creation.

Clutter is real, not packed away and picked up. (That doesn’t mean you can’t clean your house, it just means you don’t have to.)

There will often be a lull in your session. This happens in real life, and it’s okay. I promise we’ll still make beautiful images.

What It Isn’t

Posed and perfect.

Pristine clothes and perfectly coordinated outfits.

Frozen smiles, ‘cause mom said so.

Focused on your messy house (Trust me, this won’t even be noticeable), but on the relationships in it.

Laughing and walking along a brick wall while holding hands. Who even does that in real life?!

Denver Documentary Family Photography: What It Is and What It Isn\'t.