Lifestyle Photographer. Or am I?

Family photography, from a recent trip I took with my family.
My daughter, thoroughly enjoying being blasted by the waterfall part of the splash area at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

I used to think I was a lifestyle photographer. I was drawn to the more realistic style that lifestyle offered as opposed to having people stagnant, carefully posed, and studio crafted. When I look at examples of lifestyle photography, I see real expressions. I see laughter that sings to the viewer, happiness that just oozes from the families. Genuine smiles. And then of course, most of the photos are absolutely beautiful, taken during golden hour at the end of an afternoon, warm sunshine spilling into the frame.

Family photography - My family during a recent trip we took together.
My son, cracking up at one of my husband’s epic “dad jokes.”

I studied lifestyle photography, took courses about it–I even took an entire course about lifestyle adventure photography! I felt drawn to making images that were real. However, something still didn’t sit quite right with me. Lifestyle was the closest thing I had found to a photography passion. But it wasn’t the way I captured my own family, my own children. I didn’t take my kids out to a field and ask them to run around. I didn’t pose or direct them–ever. I couldn’t. My children are wild. They don’t sit, they don’t pose, and the more they know I want to direct them, the less willing they are to work with me. The are full of energy and spunk. So I have had to learn to adapt. I stopped asking them to look at me when I was taking their photo. I got down on their level. I moved around them as they played. And these are the photos that I absolutely love the most. They are real moments, real slices of time that I captured. These are the pictures that show up on our photo slideshow in the kitchen that the kids remember and talk about. I love these photos.

Family Photography - My youngest daughter, sad that our bus wasn't at the station yet.
From laughing to crying–My youngest, severely disappointed when the bus that pulled up was not the one we were getting on. The bus was one of her favorite parts of the trip.

So what is it that I do, exactly? It’s called Documentary Family Photography. It’s more of a hands off approach as far as directing–meaning that I don’t ask the families to do anything. I wait for natural moments to happen and I am there to capture them. Kids are especially great for this. Kids are busy, curious, and do wildly interesting things. They are full of emotional extremes, playing jokes and cracking up laughing one minute, and then having an emotional meltdown the next because their brother took the stick they were playing with.

Family Photography - My youngest, wanting to go explore a different area than the rest of the family.
When Piper was not being carried, she had her own agenda as far as where she wanted to go and explore.

At the end of the day, I have collected a whole story’s worth of memories to be printed in a photo book. A book which will forever remind you of what your life was like during that time period. It’s a treasure, one I hope to be able to create for many, many families to come.

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