+ What is Documentary Photography?
Documentary photography comes out of the school of photojournalism that seeks to create dynamic, candid photographs that tell a story out of a real life event. Think those beautiful spreads from LIFE magazine or National Geographic back in the day. This kind of photography seeks to highlight emotional connections between people and the beautiful rich life we live every day without noticing it.
Hiring a documentary photographer is different than hiring a lifestyle photographer or a formal portrait photography. When you hire me, I do not come to your family or business with a preconceived idea and I don’t push poses or locations or concepts on you. Rather, I come with an open mind and heart and work my darndest to capture your beautiful magical life (or party or business or house) in its full natural glory. I want you to look like YOU. And I want to create a gorgeous set of images that preserve this time for you to always look back on.
Unlike posed photography which is about someone’s idea of you, documentary photography attempts to build the story of you, image by image. Real laughs. Maybe even real tears. Above all else it shows the beautiful truth of you.
Daily routines. The chaos of little kids. Running out the door. Shopping together. The playground. The kids in the yard. A day of vacation. That trip to Disneyland. That trip to the lake. That day in the snow.
Being a documentary-style photographer means that we will schedule a photoshoot of your family doing just what you do right now at this time. We will seek to capture memories of things that are important to you and are happening. Are real. We won’t do posing or worrying about the kids standing still and smiling into the lens in a well behaved way. Life is messy and that is in itself is the most beautiful thing I could ever imagine. Instead we will craft a photoshoot around something that your family already loves to do together. Maybe you have a family tradition of a potluck every Sunday afternoon or bubbles in the backyard on a summer night. Maybe you love going to the park and stop for ice cream on the way home or maybe its donuts and cartoons on a Saturday morning. I’m up for anything, especially relaxing at home. Bedtime routines, splashing in the kiddie pool, family pillowfights or a trip to the fair are all up for grabs.
+ I’m not sure my family is exciting enough.
I know that inviting me into your ordinary life is scary. People say, “oh I’d love to do the photoshoot at our house but I would have to clean.” “oh it would be so great to do a photoshoot of my family’s weekly potluck but we are so boring.” “I’d love for you to photograph our vacation but we just sit on the beach and do nothing.” Let me tell you. Your life as it is RIGHT NOW is good enough, beautiful enough, magical enough. I promise.
That’s the temptation of coordinated outfits and a photographer directing you to lean forward just a little bit and cross your legs at the ankles, you think “this way I will look better, this way I will look like myself but the best version.” Maybe. Or maybe you will look like a stilted not-you person. Lets create pictures that help your children remember you this way. Let me tell you. YOURE LIFE IS MAGICAL JUST THE WAY IT IS!
+ What will our session be like?
When you book a session and pay your deposit, you and I will chat about the story you would like to be told through photographs. Together we will brainstorm over times when your life most clearly exhibits this. Afterwards, I’m going to integrate myself into your family or business or party (for a few hours) and play and capture you being yourselves. I will be right in step with you as your kids laugh or cry, jump or sleep, or as your clients smile and eat and work. It will be comfortable and cozy and homie. It will not be awkward, I promise. I’ll make it easy. I will immerse myself in your family or your single life or your business. I will be one of the fam. I will be part of the crew.
Still too vague? Ok here are some ideas to get you going… If you are a family, maybe you want to plan the photoshoot during the evening and capture dinner and books and bath time and cuddly bedtime. Or maybe you want to capture a snowball fight or a day at the cabin or a day trip to the islands.
If you are an individual, maybe you want to capture your walk to your favorite coffeeshop and you’re homie new apartment; or maybe you want me to capture dinner with friends at your local burger joint and a solitary drive at sunset.
If you are a business, maybe you want me to capture a team meeting or a bustling shop full of clients. Maybe you want everyone laughing and working or everyone planning with their game faces on. Maybe your product is handcrafted and you want every part of that gorgeous process documented.
If you have a reason to gather or party you will definitely want pictures to share. Maybe your sister is graduating or your baby is turning the big ONE or your mother is retiring or your block is having their huge annual Fourth of July bash. Parties are a perfect time to capture everyone together!
If you are a couple you might want the renovation of your new home captured or perhaps a date night at the carnival. Maybe you want gorgeous portraits of you either harvesting your first garden together or shopping for your first big purchase. Maybe you want pictures of your new baby puppy coming home from the pound or a big hike on the peninsula.
There is no way to fake actual relaxation and actual joy and actual comfortability. When planning a session we will center our session around the places that you experience yourself the most deeply and where your family is most at ease.
+ My family is non-traditional. How can you work with us?
One of my special passions is photographing diverse minds and bodies including non-traditional families and families with unique needs. Are you a family of one? You deserve pictures of yourself too! Are you a family of two? Guess what? You are a real family. You deserve photographs.
Do you think, gorgeous sunset family photographs are for people not like us? Those kind of pictures are for people who aren’t in a wheelchair or who aren’t developmentally delayed or aren’t DIFFERENT like we are. We will schedule that shoot when we get the house under control or the kids under control. We will schedule it when grandma learns English or when my sister’s medication finally kicks in. Don’t want.
It’s ok that your family looks different. I’m game. Maybe your family isn’t your biological family. Maybe it’s you and your three divorced girlfriends; or you, your mom and your grandmother. Maybe you are single or a single mom. Maybe your children are autistic or blind, have behavioral issues or curse like sailors. These things do not scare me. I specialize in nuroatypical humans and humans with disabilities or other concerns. I can handle it.
I come to you a humble learner; you know your family better than I ever could. Show me who you are and I will make the most beautiful pictures of your whole life. My goal is to show you how much and how well you love each other. Give me a call. I practice ethical photography and I will respect what you show me and capture it honorably.
+ What do you mean by diverse minds and bodies?
To answer this, let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up all over the world and my bachelor’s degree is in cross cultural communication. My Master’s is in children and family counseling and in my day job of helping people achieve their best lives I specialize in neurologically different families including nonverbal or developmentally delayed. My child was medically fragile and neurologically different and the pictures taken of him and us that highlight the truth about our magical lives are so special to me.
If your family has a medically fragile member or a kid on the spectrum or a grandma who has an emotional disorder and doesn’t speak English, you are literally my dream client. Because I do not ask my clients to sit still or stand over here or pose or smile, this type of photography is perfect for people who more traditional forms or posed photography hasn’t been accessible too.
+ What is Ethical Photography?
Ethical photograph is a form of photography that says that the photographer should not have the power to portray the client in a way that is harmful or embarrassing for the client. This photography is aware of the long history of people with power telling stories with the camera that the people in front of the camera never consented too.
I am committed to making ethical portraits. I want to share my power as the person behind the camera with you as the person in front of the camera. Sure I bring my expertise and I will guide us with it, but I want our pictures to be collaborative. I want you to hold the reins with me. I want our pictures to be coauthored, with a shared vision and control. In our preplanning brainstorming you can let me know what your goals are, they might be as simple as “we haven’t had family pictures taken in a long time” or as specific as “I want to look pretty.” As your photographer, I want to hear if your goals are “help my business make more money” or to “record memories of this time because I haven’t slept in three years and it’s all a blur.”
By ethical photography I mean that I am trying to not superimpose an image on you. I’m trying to translate the special feeling I get around you and yours into an image. You know that your ordinary life is worth living. Now let’s capture it and prove that it is more beautiful than any pretend thing on the planet.
I will personally edit each and everyone one of your images before handing them off to you. Not to hide your stretch marks or your wrinkles, but rather good editing tells the truth about you. It crops a tight picture of your hand on your sons shoulder and that special smile you feel when your husband goes the extra mile. I know that when I bring a camera into your life you may feel concerned or exposed. I promise to do everything I can to share power with you and show your best selves.
+ I’m on a tight budget. Can we do a miniphotoshoot with you?
Unfortunately no. I don’t believe that I could get any good pictures without getting to know you and for that we have to spend time together and laugh together. The minimum time commitment for a photoshoot starts at 2 hours for an individual and 3 hours for a family or business. For a party I prefer to arrive before set up and leave after take down. I want to spend as much time as possible with you because it takes a little while for us to get to know each other and for you to become comfortable in front of the camera. Cameras are weird and they click and they are terrifying to most people and so I will stay through that first burst of uncomfortability to the time when you and I trust each other and you don’t even see the camera and we hit gold.
+ Do I need to wait for a big occasion to hire you?
You might think, I’m not getting married and I’m not having a baby and so those are the reasons that people hire photographers.
Here’s the truth of it. You deserve to be captured. You deserve to be looked at. You are beautiful and cool and silly and strong and real and YOU deserve attention and adoration. You deserve this even if you feel too fat or too skinny. You deserve this if you are single or childless (childfree?) or lonely or happy or sad. Everyone deserves to hold their own life in their hands and celebrate it. I am here for the nontraditional and the weird. I am here for the different and the new. I am here for the unique.