Documentary Photographer

Family photos by the best documentary photographer

So what is the difference between portrait photography, family photography, or documentary photography? Can a family photographer take the same photos as a documentary photographer? Such a complicated question that could result in some very detailed answers for hours. For the sake of time and you clicking the back button, let’s talk about the simple answer and not just say a lot.

Portrait images is basically capturing what you look like today and documenting your look for time to come. How did you look in 2006, 2010, 2017, and so on? Who was tall and who was short in the photos? Did I change in 3 years? Everyone is placed in the photo in an eye pleasing way and smiles at the camera. Most of the time we pick colors for the clothes that compliment each other so no one stands out in an image.

Family photography in my opinion evolved from portrait to family by moving outside. There was a time when we all dressed up and went to Sears, JC Penny, or Olan Mills and posed in front of a back drop. Then as photographers we said well I do ‘family photography’ so we go outside in the fall to get the beautiful leaves in the photos. We take the photos between 4-6pm to get the golden color of the sun known as “golden hours." So in the United States we usually pose in a park on a bridge, maybe in front of a corn field in the midwest, possibly on a blanket. I’ve seen photographers that bring outside a beautiful ornate couch or chair. Something that looks out of place in the field or grass. These photos are beautiful, but really are the same as portrait.

Documentary photography taken by a documentary photographer is really photojournalism. Telling a story or bringing forth an emotion when the image is viewed with no words or description needed. In certain parts of the country this type of capturing images as known as lifestyle photography or lifestyle photographer.


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