A documentary photography session | Sara, Guilherme and Clarinha

Photo shoot at home, why?

Lately I have suggested to my couples that we do a photo shoot in a place and environment that is part of their day-to-day lives, for example at home. The answer is usually that the house is not spacious, tidy or interesting – and that perhaps it would be a better result in a beautiful place, on the outside.

I’m writing this post to show what I propose to do – and why I think a photography session at home makes sense!

Family documentary photography

When I became a professional photographer I was still figuring out the style that would define my work. In a short time I fell in love with documentary photography and that’s where I developed my photographic style. At weddings and in my personal, day-to-day photography it suddenly became easy to photograph, because it had a clear and well-defined objective: to tell a story!

However, I’ve always struggled with photo shoots! Not because I don’t like to photograph them, quite the opposite: I am proud of many sessions I photographed on the outside, such as this session at the CCB in Lisbon. It is an example where the goal is to take beautiful pictures, but I always wanted more – as if the beautiful photographs weren’t enough. I want to tell a story, which feels incompatible with a photo-shoot that exists for the sake of photography. It doesn’t feel “real” to me.

But everything changed in 2020! With the confinement imposed by Covid I had time to think about what I like to do (and what I don’t). With it I established new, clear goals of what I want to achieve next. At the same time some of my ex-fiancés also started contacting me to photograph their growing family. On top of that, in the beginning of July 2020, this website, specific for family documentary family photography, was launched (and I’m happy that I was one of the first members): This is Reportage Family There I could see firsthand the potential there is in documentary family photography and I was fascinated by the intensity of these images – it was finally what I had been looking for!

… but it doesn’t have to be at home!

Documentary photography doesn’t have to be at home! I want to photograph something that you like doing as a family! For example, going to the beach to catch some sun, a trip to the snow, breakfast at the pastry shop on the corner, teach the little ones how to ride a bicycle, visiting the Oceanario in Lisbon, practice stand-up paddle with the children… Something you’ve enjoyed doing in the last year as a family! Something that, if you had done with your parents, you’d like to have a beautiful professional photographic record of!

Sara and Guilherme

I photographed Sara and Guilherme’s wedding in early 2019. Since then I’ve been following this young couple’s life on social media and I was very happy when they told me that Sara was pregnant. When Clarinha was born, we scheduled a photo shoot at their house. My goal was clear: to show this couple with their baby daughter, in those special first months!

When I got to their house they told me something very interesting: they had thought about buying a camera to take the pictures themselves, but they knew they’d probably end up not taking them when the novelty passed! It’s curious that over the years I’ve met several couples who bought cameras when they got married or had children and ended up not using them – and later complaining that they hadn’t taken the pictures they had dreamed of. I even know photographers who went through the same, fortunately I’m not one of them – although I have to force myself to pick up the camera!

Sara and Guilherme decided to invest that money in several photo shoots over the years, like the one you can see below.

You can see more of my photos on my This is Reportage Family profile:

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