what is documentary-style photography?

I’ve been reading up on documentary-style photography over the last couple of weeks.

What is documentary-style photography exactly?

Here’s (part of) the Wikipedia definition:

Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle events or environments both significant and relevant to history and historical events and everyday life…

The detail that sets a documentary-style photography session apart from other sessions is that the photos are created with no photographer interaction.

From my perspective as a family photographer, documentary-style photos are the candid photos.  The ones where you’ve managed to capture a connection… a moment… a smile.  Photos that pack an emotional punch – not for everyone, but especially for those who are in them.

How is it different to a lifestyle shoot?

Lifestyle photos are photos that have been orchestrated to create a candid moment, where the photographer will direct the client to set up an unposed (in the traditional portrait sense) image – think mum cradling baby as they sit in a rocking chair and she reads a book.

Why am I doing my homework?

documentary-style photography is my dream vision for my business

Hence, me reading up.

Personally, the photos that bring a smile to my face are the photos that trigger strong memories or evoke a feeling deep inside; images that show my everyday life; my family interacting together; the stories and personalities of the ones I love…   And I know that I’m not alone in this, so it makes sense to me that a documentary-style session is going to be as equally powerful for a client – capturing images where they recognise their daily life;  the real moments, memories and stories.

We’re near the end of our Autumn school holidays, and Warren and Murdoc have been throwing the Vortex around.  They have this running tally-thing happening – catches equal points, drops equal lost points.  I’ve given up keeping of score of who’s winning because it’s been ever-changing, but it was in a moment when they both came in and collapsed on the couch out of breath, that I realised this was a documentary-style moment in our house.


this throw took a lot of effort

playing with the boy

oops, missed

waiting and catching his breath

“But I can capture these moments with my phone.  Why should I pay you to come take these photos for me?”

It’s a valid question (and a whole other discussion for another blog post!).

Know that prior to each session I will take the time to get to know you, develop a relationship with you and gain your trust.  I’ll ask you questions, like “What is your perfect day like?”. I’m going to get to the core of what is important to you and your family.  Yes, we will still plan your session, but as a photographer, I won’t be directing any movement.  I will simply be there, camera in hand, ready to photograph whatever unfolds in your moment.

Together, we will create a photography experience that allows you to return to your moments, as I document your reality in that instant, using light and time to reproduce a moment, as it is perceived by me.

And probably, most importantly of all, YOU will be in these photos.  Because be honest, how often are you in your photos?

Be a part of those authentic, imperfect and honest moments – moments that will spark conversations and help you to remember what otherwise might be forgotten, for years to come.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Have you considered booking a photography session recently?
What, if anything, has held you back?
And would you consider a documentary-style photo session?

Contact me View my portfolio Visit the shop

Posted in: photography

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Leave a comment: 1

peace sign

taking stock #008

autumn leaves mean a cool change is coming

the weather is turning and the nights are getting cooler

I find that as the weather changes, I tend to look inwards, and outwards, and evaluate just how things are going in my world.

Priorities are re-assessed.
Energies channelled elsewhere.
Happy moments remembered.
And moments of sadness acknowledged.

and gratitude is given that all is right in my world

Making: jewellery again – after quite a hiatus, my Muse has returned
Cooking: quesadilla’s for lunch – smoked salmon and cream cheese.  Yum!
Drinking: plenty of water
Reading: the third novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children – Library of Souls – by Ransom Riggs.  Highly recommended.
Wanting: more time to everything I want to do
Looking: at the leaves changing colour
Playing: with the dog
Deciding: how to spend money – a holiday or teeth.  Can you guess which one won out!?
Wishing: I could afford to both of the above
Enjoying: Sunday afternoon phone calls with my Beautiful Girl as she continues her adventure in the Territory
Waiting: for school holidays to end
Liking: not having to rush in the mornings – it is school holidays after all
Wondering: when we will see our Girl next
Loving: that my Muse has made a reappearance
Considering: purchasing a 24-70 lens.  I’ve borrowed a friends’ and despite the weight of it realise that it’s a wonderfully versatile lens
Watching: re-runs of Merlin for the third time!  My Boy and I love that show.
Hoping: I get to go to the Northern Territory in September
Marvelling: at how determined my Beautiful Girl has been in the face of some less-than-ideal circumstances
Needing: the beach.  Every now and again, living on the top of the mountain gets too much and I need sand and ocean
Smelling: dust.  It’s so dry here at the moment, and windy and all I can smell is dust
Wearing: my ugg boots most mornings now – it’s getting cool
Following: …
Noticing: the stunning contrast of yellow leaves against the blue sky
Knowing: that my Beautiful Girl will always only be a phone call or message away
Thinking: about all things business (still…) (and still….)
Feeling: a little bit lost
Admiring: other people’s beautiful photography
Sorting: out a blog post editorial calendar – and hopefully sticking to it…
Buying: evening primrose oil to make my moisturiser
Getting: organised
Bookmarking: or pinning lots of business-related articles
Disliking: people who don’t listen
Opening: the yoghurt covered sultanas
Giggling: …
Snacking: on protein drinks
Coveting: a couple of nights by the beach
Wishing: for a full nights sleep
Helping: …
Hearing: the sound of the little finches who’ve taken up residence in the garden

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you keep a gratitude journal?
Have you ever considered it?

Contact me View my portfolio Visit the shop

Posted in: live laugh love

Tagged: , , , , ,

Leave a comment: 2

peace sign

{photography} an afternoon photo walk with a friend

I met Taina late last year when Daughter house-sat for her and her husband.

over coffee and conversation, we discovered we shared a passion for photography

With one thing and another, we hadn’t managed to book a photo-walk until last Friday.  The weather was just a little cloudy – perfect for an afternoon out – so I took her to Croft Knoll and shared one of my favourite places to go when needing a little photo inspiration…
looking into the forest - photography by tasha chawner
dark and mysterious - photography by tasha chawner
windows to where - photography by tasha chawner
maybe just a little phallic - photography by tasha chawner
photography by tasha chawner
And then there was the sneak attack from Taina, as I was lost in a world of colour and texture….

Photo by Taina Hall

Photo by Taina Hall

Taking this photo…
dying thistle - photography by tasha chawner

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Where do you go when you need a little inspiration for your craft?  
Do you have a special place that only you know about, or have you shared it with others?

Contact me View my portfolio Visit the shop

Posted in: photography

Tagged: , , , ,

Leave a comment: 0

peace sign

this is why i won’t give you all of the photos from your photoshoot

editing a photo shoot

it doesn’t happen very often, but every now and again, I get a request for all of the photos I’ve taken during a photoshoot

Want to hazard a guess as to what I might answer?

But for a moment, I’ll step into your shoes, as the client.

You’ve seen the stunning photos in my online portfolio and have gotten in touch to book a session.  You’ve paid good money to have me ‘take your picture’.  You hear the shutter button click a couple hundred times and you think “She’s got a fancy camera, I’m going to get a couple hundred photos out of this!”

And then I deliver 40 images.

And you (as the client) say “What the!?”

I have 3 reasons for this, and they are as follows:

1. I shoot in RAW format.

I take all of my photos in a file format called RAW, which captures all image data recorded by the camera’s sensor when I take a photo.  When shooting in RAW the photo isn’t processed within the camera, consequently preserving all the information in all the pixels within the image. RAW files are significantly larger (because they are retaining more data) than JPEG files (which captures data and then forms an image file composed of the compressed pixels).

In effect, the RAW file is a draft – a digital negative – and just like you need a photo processing lab to develop a film negative, you need the right software (I use Lightroom, just in case you were curious) to develop a RAW file.

2. The photos that aren’t chosen to be edited are left behind for a reason.

As part of my role as your photographer, I am responsible for eliminating repetition, bad shots, test shots, and eyeblinks.  Not every photo taken on the day is going to be perfect.  You need time to settle into the photoshoot and feel comfortable being photographed.  And I need time to help you do that, so some of the photos from the beginning of the shoot may not be so good.  Equally so, by the end of the photoshoot, some members of your family may be starting to get a little over the whole thing, and aren’t really cooperating…

Sorting through these couple hundred photos that I’ve taken takes time.  What I’m looking for during this culling time is the best of the best, in order to create a beautiful collection of unique images for you, because, after all, that is what you have paid me to do.

So there’s a certain degree of trust involved.  You trust that when you hire me as your photographer, you’ll get the same quality of image that you’ve seen here on my website.  You’ve paid for my skills as a photographer, and that includes everything after the shutter click as well.

If you think of the RAW images as cake batter, my finding the best of the best is the baking of the cake.  The frosting and sprinkles are coming, trust me!

3. I want to give you my best work.

Photos are more than just files and be burned to a usb, for me.  Once the culling process is done, then begins the editing.  I will now spend time on each and every final image that I will be giving to you, working with each of them by hand to tone the colour, smooth any imperfections, and produce heirloom pieces of art that are up to my artistic standards – the same quality of work you saw in my portfolio. The frosting and the sprinkles – ta dah!

Each of the final images that I present to you represents my talent, creativity and experience.  And I want the most beautiful and stunning images from the day to be the ones that grace the walls of your home.

So, while I will listen kindly to your request for all of the images, my answer will remain the same, a no, and I will stand firm on this.

I hope that this post helps to explain why I don’t give all images from a photoshoot to you.

and now, if you’ll excuse, I’m off to bake a cake…

photo credit: January 24 – Life in the 21st Century via photopin (license)

Contact me View my portfolio Visit the shop

Posted in: photography

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Leave a comment: 0

peace sign

invergowrie family portrait session – the swain family

“hannah, would you like to go first so that you can show everyone else what to do?”

Going down to the river and having a swim, putting in a line or simply having a barbeque by the swimming hole  – simple spending-time-together family activities are what the Swain family love doing.

Their closeness was evident as I spent the afternoon at Invergowrie, taking photos… creating memories… and learning a little bit more about each of them.

It was Hannah – a delightfully active and curious 4-year-old – that I began the session with.  She loves playing babies, swinging by herself (because she can) and swimming.  She talked non-stop and the highlight of my afternoon was climbing into the cubby house after her and taking a peek into her little world.

William and Sammy – both a little shy and reserved – opened up when I asked them to find their ‘something special’ that they would like included in their photos.  For Sammy, it was his cricket ball and bat; for Will, his motorbike.

I hadn’t met Jesse and Declan before, and upon meeting them understood Leanne’s concerns about how we were going to fit all of Jesse’s legs in the photos!  Big boys and little people – the height difference was great, but Jesse was a sport and pocket-knifed himself as the occasion arose.

I loved too, that Leanne and David were open to ideas for the shoot and that Leanne had done some homework of her own and come with suggestions as well.

I asked her  how she went about choosing the outfits that each family member would wear.  She said “I started with Hannah, picked out a dress and looked in the cupboards to see what we all had that would go with that.  Being a lover of black and white shots, I confess to consulting Pinterest for a few ideas!”

Thank you all so much for letting me into your lives that afternoon, and for letting your personalities shine through.  I wish Jesse and Declan all the best with their studies and look forward to seeing you all around town.


Contact me View my portfolio Visit the shop

Posted in: photography

Tagged: , , , ,

Leave a comment: 0

peace sign

Blog design and development by Crimson Pear