Is family photography a bit like a ‘Pick n Mix’? | Cambridge family photos | Cambridgeshire family documentary photographer Diana Hagues Photography

Photographs have a way to bring you back to a moment in time; to an experience you had that has now become a distant memory. It’s that sense of nostalgia that feels almost like you have just walked into an old sweet shop and are being greeted by a familiar friend. Maybe there are one or two sweets in the jars that are your favourites; maybe some you tasted that are not so good. Whatever it is, photographs are like those jars sitting behind the counter, waiting for you to pick and tuck into them, so it could instantly remind you of those warm, fuzzy feelings you had from when you were a child or from your past experience.

Copy of sweet shop family photo memories
Copy of Brothers in a sweet shop childhood photo memories

If this picture leaves you craving to pick up a bag of sweets, then go ahead and give permission to yourself to travel back down memory lane and relive those moments. At the same time, you can read on about what makes family photography similar to getting your own ‘Pick n Mix’ and how I can guide you with choosing a family photographer without giving you a toothache afterwards (excuse the pun).

Choosing the right family photographer for you

Family photography is a bit like walking into a sweet shop. There are different photography styles to choose and, if you search online, you will find a vast array of photographers that could provide photography for newborn photoshoots, baby bump or maternity photography, as well as family photo sessions. 

So, how do you choose a family photographer that is right for you?

When it comes to family photography, there are three styles that family photographers generally specialise in. They vary from the traditional or fine art posed portraits, either in studio or non-studio, to the storytelling imagery of lifestyle or documentary photography.  

To explain, let’s go back to the sweet shop analogy. 


Portraiture or Portrait family photography (“Rock”) 

This is a classic and traditional style of photography where typically your family portrait photo shoot is controlled by the photographer from decisions made on how everyone is posing, the lighting and also the backdrop or location of the shoot if outside of a studio. Families would have an expectation of knowing what resulting images they would get from their shoot. It’s the equivalent of what I like to think of as heading to a seaside resort and buying a traditional rock from one of the beachfront shops. There is a regularity and standard set of flavours and colours with only marked differences in the lettering to the place of its origin. 

Copy of Child portrait in natural light home studio
Copy of spring children portrait blue flowers

Lifestyle Family Photography (“Toffee”)

Lifestyle photography is a more relaxed style of photography that is the next step from the traditional posed portraits. It’s like toffee confectionery or chocolate eclair with a hard exterior and a soft or chewy centre in the middle. Lifestyle family photo shoots capture the candid moments of a family, the ‘soft’ feel in family connections, but it still has a ‘hard' element of direction by the photographer. For example, the lifestyle photographer could give suggestions for planning your outfits. They may make changes to the scene, either during the shoot or in post-processing, to create a cleaner image. They could guide you into positions that either captures moments of interactions between you and your family, while perhaps being in an area of beautiful light or select a time of day for your photographs.  

Copy of Sisters playing with wooden toy bus in home.
Copy of parents with baby standing by the lake photo

Documentary Family Photography (“Sherbets”)   

Documentary family photography — the sherbets, gobstoppers or jelly beans of the photography equivalent to a sweet shop. The unposed and relaxed style of family photography, where the beauty is in the unexpected and captures families being completely natural and spontaneous. 

Copy of mum wiping sons mouth in family hallway

Documentary family photoshoots are entirely dictated by the dynamics within the family themselves. The only interaction that the documentary photographer has during such sessions are discussing with you in your pre-shoot consultation what your family likes, your children’s personalities, things you like to do together and where. This interaction is carried through into your session, where the photographer captures you in or around your home, or in places that you like to frequent. The skills of a documentary photographer are in the power of observation; waiting for a moment to unfold, and using light and composition to tell the story of your family that is neither directed nor altered. Because real life is beautiful and you are enough. 

Copy of Family sitting down to a meal

In essence, documentary family photography captures more fully the honest and authentic representation of your family life, including the raw and real emotions. It preserves real, meaningful moments and memories that will tell your family’s story long after they have been forgotten.

Book your professional family photographer

I know that choosing a family photographer that is the best fit for your family is a lot more complicated than buying a bag of sweets from the shops. Knowing your budget and location are important deciding factors, but so is the photography experience and what you like to get from your photographs. Both of those is influenced by the style of photography and photographer you choose. 

Ultimately, you want to invest in a photographer that speaks to your heart and fulfils your purpose of getting professional family photos that could best reflect your family. Just like eating your favourite sweets, your photographs should connect you to a special moment in time and bring you joy for a lifetime.   

Diana Hagues Photography is a storytelling and documentary family photographer who specialises in photographing families, small children, newborn and couples. She offers short lifestyle-documentary sessions along with half-day and full-day day-in-the-life family documentary sessions. Find out more details here and to book email Diana