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So what is the documentary approach to photo and film sessions?

A lot of people ask what is documentary photography and film-making; and how is it different to more traditional forms?

For this article, I will speak about documentary photography but the same principles can be applied to both photography and films.

Firstly, let me clarify what I believe the different styles of photography are:

  • Posed

This is your sit nicely in a set way, look at the camera and give me a smile! This is a very old-school, traditional way of capturing families. Your grandma may think of this style of photography if you mention that you have a photo session booked.

A posed newborn session will have the baby dressed up in outfits and posed in buckets, etc. and is usually in a studio environment. Generally posed newborn sessions are held when the baby is between 1-2 weeks old.

A photographer who does an incredible job at posed babies is Alana Taylor:

  • Lifestyle

With this style of photography, the photographer may encourage an activity but won't pose the subjects as such or ask them to look at the camera. The aim is to tell a family's story with some direction. A lifestyle session focusses on the connections with your family in their home. There is generally no age restrictions for a newborn lifestyle session.

A wonderfully talented lifestyle photographer is Carolina at Carolina Hanna Photography:

  • Documentary

Documentary photography is at the opposite end of the scale to posed. There is no direction at all and the photographer takes a "fly on the wall" style approach, capturing things as they happen. These are also known as "day in the life" sessions.

One of my favourite documentary photographers/film-makers is Courtney Holmes:

So what style of photography is best?

There is no right answer as this depends on what you are after. Some people LOVE the posed photos that hang on their wall. Others prefer the lifestyle or documentary approach.

Personally I love to see how people interact with each other, and show this in my work. I think in 100s of years down the track, your great great grandchildren would love to see photo albums of where and how you lived; who you spent your time with and what you did with the ones you love.

If this sounds like something you would like to have captured, please get in touch!

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