I fell in love with documentary photography when I started to realize just how quickly my own children were changing. Realizing that the photographs that I love most are the ones where my children are doing things that they love, in their own environment, just being themselves. Seriously they grow so quickly! This is something we hear all the time but I never really understood it until I sat back and realized that favorite shirt they used to wear, or stuffed animal they carried around, the way they wouldn’t eat that sandwich at lunch unless it was cut into perfect squares with the crust removed, how they used to reach to be picked up all the time, or play with my hair as we sat and watched their favourite show, all of those moments are behind us.
At the time though, when my kids were really young, I was focused on getting through the day, or maybe just getting through that hour, making our way to nap time. We were busy learning our shapes, alphabet, colors, potty training, learning to read, teaching them chores. And don't get me wrong all those amazing things that I miss so much have all been replaced with equally awesome things, but the difference is, now I capture them. Sure back then I stopped to take some photographs but if I am being honest there are a lot of smile and look at the camera photos. I captured their faces as they were, their size, sometimes their personalities shone through, but those aren’t my favorite photographs.
My favorites are the ones where they are concentrating on building that big block tower, reading their favorite book for the 100th time, practicing their piano lesson. Those photographs where I found them asleep laying on top of literally all the books they own, or cuddling with their teddy bear quietly in their room. Those photographs where they are playing together, being silly and you can almost hear their laughter through the image. All of those photographs are my favourites and what have brought me to documentary photography. Real life moments.
Documentary family photography allows the real moments to be captured. Those family interactions, personalities, those little gestures that they are sure to outgrow. The silliness of childhood, the carefree moments, the calm moments, the sad moments, and everything in between. There is no need to pick out those matching outfits, no need for perfect hair, leave that stack of favourite books on the table, keep those toys on the floor, bring out their favourite blanket, let them wear their favourite shirt. Hey, maybe layer it up with some items from their dress up bin. I go into a documentary session with the goal of freezing these special moments in time. The moments that as we go through the day, seem ordinary but are the most missed as we grow, change, and age.