Choosing a style of photography is perhaps something you have never thought about. Until you start Googling family photographers, baby photographers etc, you may have just thought you need someone who knows how their way around a camera to take a ‘nice’ picture that you can be in with your family, instead of you being the one documenting everything. You may never have considered the possibility that there are different style options for your photographs, or if you’re a bit confused about what it all means, read on…
When you look through Instagram and Pinterest and you see gorgeous images of families frolicking on the beach or artful shots of them hanging out at home, you sigh wistfully and think how lovely it would be to have photos like that of you and your family. Am I right? Perhaps you assume that they’re all styled shoots and not ‘real’ people? Not knowing what style of photography to search for is a bit like searching for a house by typing ‘home’ into Rightmove. You know how they ask you to break it down by selecting ‘detached’, ‘bungalow’, ‘flat’ etc, well it’s bit like that. When you type ‘family photographer’ into Google you’ll get pages and pages of search results, clicking through each one until you find a photographer whose style you like, in the right area and at the right price for your budget, can be a lengthy and exhausting process, it may even put you of the whole idea altogether. So, let’s break it down a bit to try and make things a little easier for you. Here are some of the main styles photographers categorise themselves as, so if you start using them in your search terms, finding the photographer that matches your vision of how you want your photographs to be will be a breeze!
You could also call this ‘traditional’ portraiture, a style that has been around since cameras were invented. I’m sure you have photos in your family archive of great grandparents posed in and around a chair together in their Sunday best, standing stock still and staring blankly at the camera? Things have moved on from those rather grim faced portraits over the years through soft focus and fake cloudy backgrounds, right through to fresh plain white backgrounds where families are encouraged to play and laugh so that they can be captured in a slightly more relaxed state. Co-ordinated clothing is usually encouraged and the great thing about studio photography is that it does not depend on the time of year or the weather. Other modern popular studio portraiture includes newborns and boudoir, both of which will have props set up that can be tailored to your preferences.
Officially, the term ‘contemporary photography’ is defined as “happening in the same period of time..of or in the style of the present or recent times”, but we’re talking about what to search for on the internet to narrow down the options depending on the style you want. So, in the family photography world if you search for ‘contemporary photographers’ you will more than likely come up with a list of outdoor location photographers. You can expect a broad range of portfolios from photographers who have spent time learning their craft either through education or many hours of practice but the common theme will be families in outdoor locations in a variety of posed and informal shots, by which I mean they’ll be families grouped smiling at the camera as well as shots of them hugging, laughing and playing. This style is probably the one that the majority of family photographers fall into so if it’s something you are searching for, make sure you look through portfolios thoroughly to ensure your chosen photographer has a solid catalogue of work, as that’s what sets aside professional photographers, the ability to provide consistent images for clients.
This is really what it says on the tin, photographers who approach their craft with a slightly more artful eye. Now remember, I’m really talking broadly about photographing families here, so leave out wedding, fashion, food, product and art photography from this discussion. Artistic photographers will have a bit of a flare for the dramatic, whether it be location, lighting, or intensity of mood. Much of an artistic family photographers skill will be in capturing connections between people, individual expressions, emotions in great locations that will stand alone as a piece of art on a wall. It takes a lot of artistic skill and practice to master framing, lighting and a whole bunch of other stuff which often works best if you as the subjects are of a creative nature yourself to catch the vision.
According to Wikipedia, ‘Lifestyle photography is a kind of photography which mainly aims to capture portrait/people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday.’ This style is often referred to as ‘magazine’ style, the kind of style that shows families taking a walk, having lunch, at the park, picnics, the list goes on, the options are abundant. This style is very natural and unposed, there will not be any ‘cheese’ shots or families smiling at the camera but there will be some planning and artistic direction involved. There will almost certainly have been some wardrobe planning, location planning and the lighting, backgrounds and subjects will be arranged for each setting before they enjoy an activity within the set up. This style is fast becoming one of the most popular as people want relaxed and natural imagery of their families for wall art, albums and social media. The clue is in the name, lifestyle photography captures your life, with style! This also applies to indoor session for newborns, maternity or just to capture your family at home doing what you do. If you run a business, you’ll know that behind the scenes images and products in their natural environments make for powerful marketing on websites and social media.
I’m going to finish with this increasingly popular style in the family photography industry as it has a raw beauty about it. It’s about telling the story of your family over a given period of time. The essence of documentary photography is that there is no direction whatsoever. There will be some planning before the event to the extent that you, as a family, will plan to do an activity but your documentary photographer will be there as a ‘fly on the wall’ only. Their job is to capture you exactly as you are together, the activity should be something you enjoy doing together so it might be baking at home, a trip to see Grandma or it could even be an entire ‘day in the life’. It’s a photographic record or your family’s day together, from breakfast and toothbrushing, through a trip to the supermarket (tantrums and all!) to supper, bath time and bedtime stories. A huge undertaking but a beautiful memory to look back on. Now, we can all take photos of those moments on our phones but the skill of the documentary photographer is to make those seemingly insignificant and normal moments into something emotive, special and artful in themselves but it’s not for the fainthearted!
So there you have it, a brief run down and hopefully some clarity to make life a little easier when you search for a photographer to capture your family’s journey. If you want to talk more about booking a session, get in touch.