Documentary Photography vs. Lifestyle Photography
Updated: Feb 6
We'll start with Lifestyle photography. This is often what you see on people's Christmas cards. The sessions are usually outdoors during the hour before sunset (golden hour). Families often wear outfits in a matching or complementary color scheme. The photographer will direct the family where to go at the location, provide some basic guidance regarding how to pose, and will then step back and allow the family to interact together, while photographing their "natural" interactions. The photographer will direct the family toward the best area for lighting and background, might fix an out of place strand of hair, and maybe even give prompts to illicit authentic looking interactions.
Documentary photography, on the other hand, aims to tell the family's authentic story, without any direction from the photographer. She will not tell you where to stand for the best lighting. Objects in the scene will not even be moved. It is all about telling an honest story.
Lifestyle photography is about creating a beautiful, idyllic image of the family. Documentary photography is about telling the family's genuine story (though still done in an artistic way).