Why I'm Dedicated to Documentary-Style Family Photography

This post was originally published February 19, 2016

The best questions often come from children, don’t they?

Their honest curiosity gives them the ability to phrase things in a way that adult never would, and we’re so surprised by their bluntness, we’re encouraged to think about things in a new way.

A couple of weeks ago, I got one of those great questions from a client’s son. Right in the middle of painting a star, he turned to me and asked, “So, why do you like taking photos?”

It was a good question, and one that deserved a thoughtful answer. I realized on my drive home, though, that although I’d done my best at the time, there is really so much more to my love for documentary-style photography than I'd told him that morning. 

Albuquerque Family Photographer Documentary Lifestyle Photography

I want to help people hold onto time.

Not the great big life changing moments (although those deserve to be photographed, as well), but those little ones we take for granted until they’re gone.

Little feet standing on a chair. Moms hands pulling her daughter’s hair into a ponytail. Cuddling on the couch to read a story.  Legos strewn over the bedroom floor. That unbridled happiness that children radiate when they realize they have your full attention.

One day my boys will be grown up, and I will miss them. Really, really miss them. And their mess. And their joy. And their innocence. I want to help other people hold onto this time in their lives, too, because as busy and exhausting as it is, it’s filled with fantastic little moments.

Albuquerque Family Photographer Documentary Lifestyle Photography

I want to help people preserve their family history.

You know, I truly love hearing stories from my parents (and grandparents, when they were alive) about the way they lived as children - the type of games they used to play, what they ate for Sunday lunch, and all the details of their families’ lives.

We rely so much on our memories to help us pass down our family’s heritage, but documentary-style photographs add life to the story in a way that words alone just can’t. When I look at photos from my childhood, I don’t just see the moment, I see the details that help tell the entire story. I see my grandfather’s hands holding a stack of Polaroids he’d just snapped while he tastes the cake on my 4th birthday. I see my parents bodies – younger, of course, but standing or working with a stance and a look so familiar, it takes my breath away.

Long after my husband and I are gone, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to see what our lives and their parents’ lives were really like. They will truly know us, thanks to the prints of our family’s photos. Family history is something I treasure, and I love being able to give that same gift to others through my work.

Albuquerque Family Photographer Documentary Lifestyle Photography

I want to help people see the beauty of their every day.

It’s so easy to compare ourselves, our homes, our lives to everyone else’s – both people we know and those we don’t. We see how clean and perfectly decorated their houses are. We see their children’s achievements – from potty training to getting into their first choice of college. We see what they have, and what we don’t. But what we have – what YOU have – is amazing. Our lives, just as they are - with clutter, and children who don’t want to wear pants, and dinner on the stove - are beautiful because they’re full of love. We shouldn’t wait to capture our favorite memories with our families in photographs because we plan to re-do the kitchen or lose 15 pounds. Love and life is happening NOW.  

I want to help families see that even though life is not perfect, it’s beautiful - in every stage. I want to help them stop and look at the details of love that shine every day in their homes. It’s really fantastic, something you do not want to miss. 

I'll work on my short answer, but for now, this is it for me. Documentary-style photography speaks to my heart in a way I can't ignore. I don't just like it. I honestly love it.

Curious about what a documentary-style session with me is like? Head HERE and I'll send you my guide. Decide for yourself whether this is the sort of session your heart wants - no strings attached.

For more from my personal projects and the importance of photography, read THIS or THAT