Today I want to dive into a few different styles of family and newborn photography: documentary, lifestyle, and posed, and discuss which style might be the best choice for you. I’ll also discuss the style that I use and why I think it best benefits my clients.
Table of Contents
The Sliding Scale of Family and Newborn Photography Styles
I like to think of family and newborn photography styles as more of a sliding scale rather than strictly defined boxes that a photographer must fit into. A photographer might call themselves lifestyle but lean more towards posed photography or they may lean more towards documentary. It’s best to make sure you look closely at a photographer’s portfolio or Instagram feed to get a sense of the style of images that they tend to photograph and see if it feels like what you are looking for.
So let’s dive in.
Documentary Family and Newborn Photography
Documentary photography is a genre of photography that focuses on capturing real-life situations and events. It can be described as a visual record of the world around us, and its purpose is to tell a story through pictures. Documentary photography is often used in photojournalism, where photographers capture images that are meant to inform and educate the public, but lately, there has been a lot of interest in documentary-style family photography. Many photographers who focus on this style might offer Day-In-The-Life sessions where they spend an entire day with a family photographing them going about their day.
- This style is for you if you want to capture the raw, natural, candid moments of your everyday life. A true documentary photographer will offer little to no direction in terms of what to do, where to look or how to pose. They act more as a “fly on the wall” and capture moments as they happen organically.
- This style isn’t for you if you are uncomfortable in front of a camera and feel unsure about what to do with your hands. It’s also not for you if you’re looking to get a photo of the whole family smiling and looking at the camera for the grandparents.
Next up: Posed Family and Newborn Photography
Posed photography is a type of photography that involves setting up a scene and directing the subject(s) to pose in a certain way. You typically see this style used for headshots, formal family portraits, and some newborn photography. Posed photography can be done in a studio or on location, and it requires careful planning and attention to detail.
- This style is for you if you want and/or need a lot of direction for your photo sessions, or are looking for more formal portraits where everyone is looking at the camera.
- This style is not for you if you want to capture more candid moments, or images of you interacting and connecting with your family and the environment around you.
Finally, Lifestyle Family and Newborn photography
Lifestyle photography is a type of photography that captures people in their everyday lives. Lifestyle photography can be staged but is usually more relaxed and informal than posed photography. It is meant to capture the essence of a person or a group of people and their surroundings. This is my favorite style because it brings (in my opinion) the perfect mix of the other 2 types. You are able to capture those more formal portraits because the photographer will direct you and help you into specific poses, but they will also give you time to just interact so that they can capture the more natural moments as well.
- This style is for you if you want and need some direction, but also want your images to feel natural.
- This style is not for you if you are specifically looking for one of the other two types.
Why I Love Lifestyle Family and Newborn Photography
My photography has a heavy emphasis on capturing moments of authentic connection and interaction but being someone who personally isn’t the most comfortable in front of a camera, I always appreciate some direction. It’s hard to stand in front of a camera and not know what to do, how to stand, or if your hair looks alright.
Lifestyle photography allows me to guide my clients into poses or situations so that they feel confident in what they are doing and how they look. I then give them a prompt and allow that moment to evolve and see what we capture.
For example, I might start with the whole family sitting on a blanket smiling and looking at the camera (the grandparents always want that one!). Then I might have Dad pick the toddler up and tickle him to see what kind of candid moments I can capture.
Likewise, for a newborn session, I might take a photo of Mom and Dad holding Baby and looking at me, and then ask them just to snuggle with their sweet newborn. They are already in a flattering pose, but then we let the moment evolve naturally and photograph those moments as well.
To Sum It All Up
Lifestyle photography is all about finding the perfect balance between capturing natural moments and directing the scene. Unlike documentary photography, which is purely candid, or posed photography, which can sometimes feel stiff, lifestyle photography allows for a more natural and relaxed approach.
I offer direction and create a specific mood or atmosphere, but then allow my clients to interact with each other and their surroundings in a way that feels authentic and comfortable. This results in images that showcase the genuine personalities and relationships of my clients, without any forced or artificial moments.
In short, lifestyle photography is the perfect style for anyone who wants to capture authentic moments while still receiving guidance and direction. With the right photographer, clients can be in front of the camera confidently and enjoy a fun and relaxed photoshoot that results in stunning images they will treasure for years to come.
Kate Voda Photography is an in-home Newborn Lifestyle photographer and a Portrait Lifestyle photographer serving New Jersey and the surrounding areas.