Family Photojournalism │ Your questions answered │ Winnipeg Family Photojournalist │ aliciaTphoto

March 21, 2017  •  4 Comments

A new approach to family photography in Winnipeg

Some answers to frequently asked questions about the documentary approach to your family photographs

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory" ~ Dr. Seuss

These words ring true. They ring true for all of us on some level. There are some details of our lives that are not but fuzzy memories now. Case in point, my nursing journey with not one, but both my children. It feels like a lifetime ago. I can barely remember it already. And all I have from my nursing journey with my oldest is 1 image a dear friend took for me when he was 3 weeks old, and like 3 selfies. How I look back and long to have that amazing relationship we had captured with more than my cell phone. I would give almost anything to go back in time and explain to myself how valuable those images would be to me 4 years later. And, being a photographer and all, you think I would have learned my lesson the first time around... but the same holds true for my youngest. With him I have 3 nursing photos.... other than cell phone ones.

So here's the down-low friends. Here are some frequently asked questions about family photojournalism and documentary style family photos. Once you've read through it, ask yourself what YOU will want to remember 4 years down the road. 10 years. 50 years. 

What on earth is "Family Photojournalism"?

Family Photojournalism is exactly what it sounds like. You hear of news photojournalists and street photographers documenting things as they are, from their perspective. My goal when using a photojournalistic approach with your family is to capture the essence of WHO you really are, as a unit as well as individuals at this particular stage in your journey. To capture true family connections and to create images that will trigger memories for you. Images that will grab your soul and bring you back in time. 


What is the difference between lifestyle and documentary/storytelling?

When you hear of lifestyle photography, you think of family portraits that are more laid back than your typical formal portrait. There will likely be some guidance from your photographer on where to sit, how to position yourselves and what to do to create the image you and your photographer want. It will happen in a predetermined location, maybe with you all in coordinated outfits, and it will take place at a specific time of day so you have the prettiest light, and the best backdrops to work with.

With documentary photography, there is none of this. There's no posing. There's no "re-do's". There's no staging. It's all about comfortable, genuine moments that happen organically in your own home or out and about doing the regular activities you do. These images will tell the story of who you are as a family. There's no pressure to behave a certain way or dress a certain way. There's no fancy (and let's be honest, a little intimidating) studio lights. These types of sessions are all about your story and capturing your most honest and truest selves, in your own environment.

Let's be real here for a moment, shall we? I'm not here to convince you that one is better than the other. They are both equally amazing photography experiences in their own right. It's like comparing apples and oranges... sure they're both fruit, and they both grow on trees.... but that's about all they have in common. But that doesn't mean they aren't both tasty! You have to decide for yourself which appeals most to you at this stage in your life! 

All the photos hanging in my home are posed. Can I even hang candid photos on my walls...?

The short answer..... ABSOLUTELY! My own walls are covered with the candid moments of our lives, and I've had many a past client from both documentary sessions as well as lifestyle sessions tell me that the candid moments always make it onto their walls because those are the ones that pull them in. Those are the images they can most relate to. 

We are soooooo boring. You would have nothing to photograph!

So you think! I have yet to encounter a "boring" family. Your day may feel or seem boring to you, because you live it every. single. day. Sometimes all it takes is an outside perspective to remind you that your unique story is perfect and beautiful simply because it's yours. And remember, I will likely see things that you might miss on a daily basis... not because you're not watching for them, but because (as mentioned before) sometimes it takes an outside perspective.


My house is messy. There's no way I'd want a session here.

Messy-shmessy. My house is rarely, if ever immaculate. Can you tell in most of my personal work? Not really. Because there are ways to document to draw a viewers focus a certain way. And if someone does happen to notice the basket of unfolded laundry beside the sofa or the dust bunnies in the corner (or the kitchen table that looks like a bomb went off on it and the counter full of last nights dishes.... *ahem*)? So what. It's easy to forget how chaotic life with small humans can be. It's all part of your story right now. 

Maybe we'll have a session once my house is organized/I lose 10lbs/my baby can walk/my kid grows some hair/*insert random honest hesitation or worry here*.....

All I will say on this point is that the days feel long, but the years are short.... this part of your journey will be over before you know it. Don't put it off.... I can also say with 100% certainty that your kids won't care whether or not your house was spotless or if you lost that 10lbs... what they will care about is that there are photos of them with their parents, living and loving.

You talk a lot about kids and families... Can I have a session like this if I don't have kids? What if it's just my partner and I?

Heck yea you can! These kinds of sessions generally appeal to young families most, however if you want to document you and your partners story, as you are right now... whether it will always be just the 2 of you, or you want to paint a picture of your life before you have kids, or you want to celebrate your love now that your nest is empty, these sessions are for anyone! 


If you've stuck with me this long, thank you! Thanks for taking a moment out of your day to hear me out. I hope this answers some of your questions. If you have others, post them in the comments! I will gladly answer them. I would love to know what, if anything, is holding you back from documenting your now. 

Remember friends, real is the new perfect. 




Thank you for writing this, you nailed it! I try so hard to explain this to my husband and potential clients and they just don't get it. I'll have to share your post with them ;)
And your pictures, are so honest and raw, amazing work!
I love all of the points you made! You're so right! My memory is already fading so much, and I'm not even that old! I want to remember so many things I've forgotten, and I'm so glad I have photos to help spark those memories for me. It's so important to have someone like you help document true family time! This is so good!!
Oh, Alicia! This is PERFECTION!! It's everything I'd want to say to my clients as a photographer, and everything I'd want in my own family photographer! Your clients are so incredibly lucky to have you documenting their most precious memories for them. And these photos are gorgeous! I wish I lived closer to you!
Tara Lemana(non-registered)
Very well explained, Alicia! I wholeheartedly agree, I have forgotten so much about my big kids' early years, I really wish I had taken more photos (this is more than a decade ago, when I didn't even own a camera) or had had the option to hire someone to do a photojournalism session. You can't get those moments back.
Needless to say, my toddler is being photographed all the time, and my big kids more than they'd probably prefer, these days!
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