1. They feel awkward posing for photos
“I wanted to get photos of all the family that were good quality, but I feel like trying to get kids to sit in a studio, behave and look like themselves never really works.“Annie
And even in a natural setting, it can be difficult to relax when a photographer is trying hard to make you laugh to get natural images. It can feel a little ‘fake’ to some people. (Me!)
During a documentary family photography session, kids are allowed to be kids and parents don’t feel awkward. They can take a break, drink coffee, eat, parent, sleep, laugh or cry.
I was worried that it would be stressful to have a photographer in the house with such a new baby but she was totally unobtrusive, and so good at developing a rapport with us and with the children, that it wasn’t stressful at all. Our photo shoot was totally relaxed.Margaret
2. They want natural photos of themselves, with their family, in the moment
Parents (and especially mothers) are often absent from their family photos. They do want their children to have a reminder of them AND for these photographs to be representative of who they are.
My clients prefer candid photographs of themselves with their natural smiles & expressions, rather than struggling to compose a face for a pose.
They also want the range of their children’s expressions to be captured: not just the happy ones, but also the funny ones and even the sad/crossed faces that we don’t want to forget.
3. They want their family story documented (rather than photographed)
She captured some beautiful moments in such a relaxed way – with a mother’s eye. She knows what moments we will treasure and freezes them in time!Jen
There is a difference between photographing what your family looks like and documenting what your family life feels like at that exact moment in time.
It’s not about “perfection”, about “looking happy” or wearing clothes purchased for the occasion.
It’s about capturing the essence of a phase in your life: new baby fog with a messy house, big family chaos, moving house, living with the grandparents, or simply children growing up too fast.
I really liked the natural photography on your website and the idea of capturing more than just us – our home/garden/food/toys/pets and they are what make us “us”. It was important to me to get natural shots of us all together including the dog too!Grainne
I don’t like posed photos and prefer to be captured in my daily life, silly faces and everything, so hiring a documentary photographer made total sense.Simona
I never cease to be amazed by the images you capture and the beauty you see in everyday moments, and you draw my attention to them too and make me appreciate our everyday life all the more!!Majella
4. They have a neurodiverse family and my style suits them better
Over the years, I have photographed many neurodiverse families and for me, it is no different than photographing a neurotypical family:
I respect everyone’s boundaries, I stay calm, I don’t speak loudly, I don’t force communication, I’m patient and document what is happening.
For parents, however, knowing that nobody is expected to act any differently because a photographer is present is a relief.
I think Johanna’s personality is perhaps almost as important as her talent as a photographer – her friendly, relaxed approach made the whole experience such a positive memory for all of us.Noel
Dara is a happy and gentle boy who loves dinosaurs, dragons and playing in the sand. He is autistic, although we are still waiting on a formal diagnosis. This means that he communicates differently to other kids his age, for example using gestures rather than talking most of the time, and repeating things he hears (echolalia). He finds changes and new environments difficult, we adapt as much as possible but he also finds his own way of self regulating such as deep pressure and swinging off things. He loves a good game of chase with his sisters and other children and he loves to dance.Cliona
Documentary family photography is ideal for parents of autistic children and autistic parents :)
5. They don’t want to worry about their children following directions or ‘behaving’
Children don’t pose or behave (mine don’t anyway) so having a relaxed photographer means the special moments are captured without them even knowing.Aisling
The whole experience was so natural: no posing or trying hard to get the perfect picture, instead, we got to enjoy a family day.Mayra
“The whole experience was so natural: no posing or trying hard to get the perfect picture, instead, we got to enjoy a family day.
6. Their partner wouldn’t agree to a traditional photo session
I will not give any names, but it seems like a “you won’t even have to pose or do anything you don’t want to do” was a good argument for a few of my clients to get their partners to agree to a family photoshoot.
Ok, let’s be honest, it’s usually the fathers who need the convincing.
And again, I’ll be honest, they’re usually the ones who can’t stop saying how much they love the images and how easy it all was – once it’s over.
7. Take the pressure off them to try and capture those special moments
A lot of my clients love photography and do an amazing job at capturing moments of their everyday life.
Yet, they hire a professional photographer to do it for them every year or so. Why?
As a fellow documentary photographer, I have to say that it was such a relief to know that the pressure was off of me to try to capture those special moments of us together. Johanna did a phenomenal job and her laid-back personality fit right in with our family’s own calm and laid-back energy.Ariana
Parents not only want be IN the photos with their family but they also want to be in the moment, and not worry about taking any photos at all for a day.
We were moving house & country, the place our son was born. As a photographer myself, I knew that having professional photos done was very important.Simona
The next advantage is also a big one: getting someone else to do all the sorting/organising and printing.
As a photographer, while I do take a lot of pictures of my girls, I very rarely get my big camera out. The last thing I want after a day working on my clients’ photographs is sitting at the computer to go through personal photos. Which means I have quasi none printed.Leanne
Finally, seeing your own family through the eyes of another person/photographer is quite amazing and very hard to describe until you experience it.
8. They like reportage-style photos showing everyday life
They like telling a story, they like details and they like how these objects/details tell a story in a photograph.
As a journalist, I treasure photos that show people living everyday life, and I wanted that part of us captured. When I found Johanna’s website, I loved her shots. Her ability to tell a story with an artistic eye. I wanted to touch her photos. They’re visceral experiences.Erin
That’s what I like too :D I like imperfections, I like REAL, I like RAW. I like images that tell the story of who we really are.
If that’s something you like too, consider a documentary family photoshoot with me (or someone closer to you).
Interested in hiring me for a documentary family photo session someday?
Let me send you all the details and you can decide in your own time.