DOCUMENTARY FAMILY SESSION IDEAS
Your family's story is unique + matters in this season. Use these documentary style
sessions to spark ideas about your own family. Whether you hire a photographer or pick up your iPhone camera more often, start off 2020 with photo goals. Think ahead what characteristics and everyday happenings of your family you can document. Your new year and another decade of real, messy life + love is an art to be appreciated.
Despite the high temperatures here in North Carolina (I took my boys to the pool last week because it was 90!), Autumn is a wonderful time for family photos. With fall festivals every weekend, it is the perfect opportunity for some documentary style family photos. Warm ciders and pumpkin brews are in hand. There is an abundance of fallen rotten apples in the orchards for throwing contests with the kids. There is apple-picking and apple pie baking. So many decisions in colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from in the pumpkin patch. The leaves are changing into gorgeous hues enhanced by golden hour light. Oh, and no one is sweating too much! Looking back at documentary images from family traditions like these enhance and anchor our memories.
What are you and your family doing this fall? My October is booked, but contact me for available November dates! I would love to document your family time.
Five Things to Consider
Before you stop reading because you think you can’t do a 365 project… keep reading. A visual 365 project is the practice of photographing each day for one year. The amount to be gained from a project like this is really endless. There is opportunity for technical improvement, for intentionality, or for just looking more closely at things of beauty around you. Set your own guidelines to streamline the process and make it as easy as possible to keep up with. I have broken it down into five things to consider as well as the thoughts I have everyday when I shoot.
Will your photos be of certain people? Just your family? Just your kids? Or is anyone you cross paths with fair game?
I started with just my family, but ended up including shots from worship on Sundays and other people in our life.
What equipment will you use? Will you only use your iPhone or will you decide to play around with that DSLR camera that’s still in the box? Is there a technique you are trying to master?
I use only my Sony Mirrorless Camera. I kept this 365 to Black and White photos only.
Will your photos be taken wherever you happen to be each day? Or will you only document photos around your house?
Because I keep my camera in the main living space of my home, I can grab it anytime we have something going on inside or outside of the house. I also pack it up and bring it on adventures from time to time. But I mostly document things as they are happening.
Will you take photos throughout the day, keeping your camera at arm’s length for easy access? Or will you only shoot in the morning?
I don’t limit my photos to a certain time of day. I think about things I want to photograph whether it is something I want to remember, something beautiful I see, or a technique I want to try.
Will you decide to share your images? Or just keep them in a folder on your phone or computer? Will you take literally only one photo per day or will you take several and only edit and share your favorite one?
I share one edited image every day on VSCO. I chose this format because of the beautiful simple story-style layout and because there is less emphasis on "Likes" than other platforms. I also chose this because it is a mobile app so I knew I could keep up with it if everything could be completed on my iPhone.
Whatever you decide, keep it simple for your lifestyle and sustainable to assure success completing the project. Some days you won’t want to pick up the camera and other days you’ll want to photograph everything around you. Establishing a routine of your own is the most important in a 365 project. You will look back and see a lot of what happened over the year and/or what you’ve learned technically through visual documentation each day.
Things I Think About Each Day
A big one for me is how can I capture the wonder + curiosity in my kids' childhood?
What beautiful details will remind me of this season of my life?
What holiday or seasonal tradition can I document?
What routines do we have everyday that I often overlook?
What items do I see everyday that I might take for granted?
What traits or characteristics do people in my family have that I want to remember?
What new lens or technique can I play around with?
What time of day has the most beautiful light to photograph in? Or how can I play with the light I see?
What humor can I find in my everyday life?
I remember thinking how absolutely awesome Instagram was when I was introduced to it in 2013. I didn't know what to post, but I loved the visual aspect of the app and still do.
Rather than feelings burdened by time, the camera helped me appreciate it one small slice at a time. I discovered within these slices new worlds and hidden truths that previously went unseen. // The Creative Fight by Chris Orwig
I know this season of your life seems ordinary, chaotic and possibly not worth photographing.
I assure you, there is beauty to be found, nostalgia to be gained. Like mine, your family's everyday life + love deserves to be documented.
Before having kids I worked for years on the visual side of Anthropologie. It is a retail company dedicated to women living colorful lives of continual inspiration and learning. This lifestyle is reflected through each woman’s curated home decor and clothing style.
I find every Anthropologie store to be a place of inspiration in itself with elaborate displays and carefully chosen products. During my time employed there we had Inspiration Days once per month. These days are like adult field trips. Instead of working in the store that day we would go places like art museums, gardens or thrift shops. We would observe, brainstorm, find new ideas for our current projects, and mostly find new ways of looking at things.
Recently, I took one such Inspiration Day away from my mom-duties at home to photograph at the McMillan Greenhouse on the University of North Carolina campus in Charlotte. I had no agenda but to observe through my camera lens, craft beautiful images, and awe at the creativity of God’s creation.
I firmly believe every workplace should take these adult field trips! We need time to get out and explore, see new things, have our daily view refreshed.
Where can you go this week for some quiet and change in perspective?
My cousin is an organic vegetable farmer in Ontario, Canada. We have an on-going 20-year conversation that has made its way through e-mails, AOL Instant Messenger, and now iPhones. Many of our messages are just nonsense, but we will talk about anything and everything. Sometimes we get into some meaningful chats. Around the one year anniversary of my dad's passing he sent me a text saying he was thinking of me. Then he went on to talk about carrots. He can be quite poetic. Carrots were an important part of my dad’s life the last three months. Three-times daily carrot juicing became a rhythm of my parents' days. His words also reflect the way Dad did things, methodically and deliberately, with experience. He was quiet, but rhythmic in his consistency in my life.
Carrots are a big part of the growing we do. We are known for them. They pay our salaries. We take great pride in them. We put a significant effort into growing perfect carrots. We seed them a couple times in the spring and then one big seeding in late July. It's the last chance to plant carrots to get a Fall harvest and it's a tricky time of year to do it because it is so hot. In the best weather carrots are finicky. Fall carrots are the best carrots.
Hi. I'm Suzanna.
I like running outside, eating real food and crafting beautiful images. I am captivated by documenting everyday life–revealing what authentic, adventurous and lovers of life we all are.