This week Simona Dietiker of Momoland Photo based in Switzerland is sharing her documentary family photography point of view along with her photographs:

Years ago, I came across a photo of a mother and her daughter looking at each other and smiling. Something in this particular picture spoke to me and I kept staring at it again and again. It was the connection between mother and daughter that impressed me so much; you could almost feel the emotions and love between the two. That’s how I met documentary family photography for the first time. Through this picture, a new world opened up to me and the seed for the discover of my life passion was planted.

At this time, I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.

We had, like many other parents, the classic “baby in the basket” session (it was more like an accident, but this is another story). At first I was really happy with the photos, which are honestly ok, but after a while I thought they were “empty” pictures.

The photos are aesthetically good, but it doesn’t feel like they are of my daughter: it was just another cute baby with a knitted bonnet on a white fluffy blanket. I can barely recognize her in those images. Even as a newborn, she had a very strong personality, which I can see in many other spontaneous photos I took. So, I’m still not really emotionally attached to these posed photos.

Then I started documenting our life almost every day and printing albums one per year. It takes me plenty of time (which I don’t actually have), but it’s so worth it! My life isn’t perfect, I think that being a parent is the most challenging, exhausting, yet wonderful job in the world. I really struggled with my new role as a mother, and sometimes I felt like I was doing everything wrong – as if all other mothers and families were so much more “perfect”. Social media did not help this feeling, seeing everyone’s incredible holidays, wide smiles and so on.

Documentary photography helped me see the beauty in every day, even if this was not always in the moment, but later when I looked at my albums with my daughters.

I believe documentary family photography can help us overcome this feeling that we are not enough, that our life is not that cool, that only the perfect things (perfect children, perfect clothes, perfect holidays.) are worth documenting. It can hep us embrace our perfect imperfect life with our children, partner and pets. It can help us see how much humor, love, and tenderness each day can offer.

Photographing other families help me see the gifts that our everyday life bring to us, and I’m really grateful for that.

While photographing a family, I’m specially drawn to quiet and tender moments, small gestures and laugh or eye contact. I love to capture connections, but also the funny moments and the weird things that only children could do, and that are so special for each one of them.

I believe those pictures are a big treasure for parents, who can remember their small children as they really were; as well for children, maybe even helping them get to know their parents better, when they will look at them as adults. 

I’m convinced that photos are even more precious and important, as time passes. There is nothing like discovering old pictures and looking at them with fresh eyes, remembering these moments, exactly as they happened. No need to stage or change anything, real life is just more than enough!

Learning to cherish every day is a (possibly) life-long process, and I’m still learning, too.

Today Sonja Stich based in Barcelona, Spain  is sharing her documentary family photography point of view along with her photographs:

Over the years, both in my private life and in my work, I have scraped off some layers of civilization. In order to live closer to the core of myself as a human being, I’ve basically eliminated more and more things from my life that used to be important to me.

I gave up my work as a graphic designer because the focus on beautiful packaging repelled me more and more. Our family moved from the city to a village, for the children to grow up with less concrete, emissions, noise and consumption. We resigned from the cultural offer and comfort of the city.

Here, we see our food grow, we walk barefoot all summer day long, we are closer to life.

This is exactly what I love about documentary photography. When I take pictures of my family and friends, I do not want false smiles or forced touches, no beautiful clothes or houses to represent an image, no poppy fields and sunsets to evoke emotion.

No, I want to photograph people as I experience them when I do not have a camera with me.

Being in contact with nature has become essential to me. While a young designer, I thought that one could spend a whole adult life in offices, museums and cafés. Now I can no longer imagine a life without daily contact with the elements, plants and animals. To use flowers or pets as requisites for photos seems ridiculous to me.

It makes me happy to see how naturally my children interact with nature. And how our baker experiments with different cereals. How our friends and family gather to celebrate traditional festivals and make big fires. How our children are surrounded by plants, animals, music and real emotions.

This is what I want to document. If, someday, my children should forget that they are part of the whole, that humans are not separate from nature and other humans, how beneficial real laughter and heartfelt touches are, or how little you need to be happy, my photos hopefully will remind them.

WORDS: Documentary family photographer Margaret Albaugh, Spokane, WA

IMAGES: How documentary family photographers display photos in their homes.

Dautlich Photography, West Sussex, England

 

Sometimes I walk through a friend’s house and I see only bare walls. Maybe there’s a random stock photograph or graphic design framed on the wall. For the most part, I see a poorly curated wall.

And then I flip over to their Facebook wall.

Photos upon photos of their life, for all the world to see. They want to share their life with friends and family near and far. I get it.

I do it too.

Maljaars Fotografie, The Netherlands

But here’s the thing – our kids don’t access our Facebook accounts. They’re not seeing how much you brag about them on Facebook. What if they could see all that love… everyday? What if they felt it every time they walked into the hallway?

Imagine waking up to brush your teeth and you see a photo of your dad and you playing baseball. Or a photo of you and your mom having a pillow fight? Or you and your sister just painting each other’s nails in a totally everyday yet adorable way?

Desiree Walters Photography, Brooklyn, NY

 

That would seriously be the best.

Studies show that children who see photos of themselves and their families actually have higher self-esteem. Not the fake self-esteem you get when everyone gets a trophy for participation. No. This is to-the-core self-esteem that comes from knowing your family loves and supports every goofy, weird, silly, sweet, darling thing about you. It comes from knowing your family loves you so much, they splatter the walls with pictures of you.

Nicole Sanchez Photography, Alexandria, Virginia

Imagine the effect when those photos are real-life photos! Everything from sweet to funny to awkward could be up on those walls and it would be an affirmation to your child of UNCONDITIONAL love.

“‘For children in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socialising process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages of their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them.’ (Source: Study on Children and Family Photographs, Daily Mail)

Margaret Albaugh, Spokane, WA

 

THAT SOUNDS AMAZING.

So decorate your walls. Not your Facebook Walls. Decorate the walls that house your beautiful family. Let your FAMILY see those photos and re-affirm your love to each other every day. Remind them that they don’t just live here – they BELONG here.

Today Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography, Lithia, Florida is sharing her documentary family photography point of view along with her photographs:

What about real life do I love to photograph?

Well, many people document for the sake of memories, with people in the past or for people in the future. I photograph real life for the present. To share what really goes on in people’s homes and in people’s lives. We spend so much time playing the comparison game that we need to level the playing field and compare apples to apples not apples to oranges!

If we started showing our neighbors that we aren’t the best at everything, that we have sad days too, that we are good at some things, but other things then suffer, the world might be a happier place right?

Since the dawn of time we have compared our skills to the rest of the cave. We needed to know who could run fast, who was better with a spear and who to sacrifice to the volcano. This comparison has now turned into multimillion dollar sales of purses and shoes.

It’s ok to want to better yourself in some way, but not when it starts to affect your mental health!

For me, when I show images of kids being dirty, a house with the same kitchen table clutter as everyone else’s or the shenanigans that ALL kids get into, it can help someone else feel normal. They don’t feel so alone, they realize that others have strengths and weaknesses too.

(They might realize that Kim K is really the one to sacrifice to the volcano gods.)

As the documentary approach to family photography is growing within the photographer community, we’ve noticed that it might be hard to understand how it differs from regular “photo sessions”. So we thought we’d show you through a What really happens series.

When thinking about family documentary photo sessions, the length of the session might seem scary. Four hours? Six hours? A FULL DAY? But the kids need to sleep!

Continue reading What really happens during A Day In The Life | Sleeping III