Documentary V's Lifestyle photography

April 15, 2019

Documentary and lifestyle photography. What exactly is the difference? As I shoot both, I would like to explain the differs between them. 



There's a little transition, yet there's a significant difference. Sometimes there is a question when looking at an image 'is it lifestyle or documentary?'. The true documentary style cannot be mistaken. The lifestyle category can sometimes have a question mark over it. 



Lifestyle photography - in a sense is staged. NOT like the old traditional everyone looking at the camera and posing and smiling cheesily sense. A typical lifestyle photography session, child or family would be us going for a walk in the woods or a park where I could maybe suggest doing something. (Which I very rarely do) Even though it is a lifestyle, I still try to keep it as natural as possible by not influencing.  I am producing natural portraits and genuine moments between the families. 



This sort of style can also be in their home, baking cakes or getting messy with paints! In a scenario like this, is where the boundaries of lifestyle and documentary lines are blurry.  As it's their home and I'm documenting what they're doing as a family. 



Documentary photography - isn't staged whatsoever! That much so in the photography world, it is a forbidden law. (not literally but is severely frowned upon) More like an unspoken law. (I can be a little drastic at times :) but other photographers who stage or influence a shot they've passed of as 'documentary or photojournalistic' are 'shot down' by other photographers. (there is a pun in there. I know, I know, I won't give up my day job) 



It is just photographing sincere, genuine moments.  How people (in this case families) genuinely are as a unit. A real fly on the wall kind of thing. I as a  photographer has no influence or say in what happens or about to happen. It's my job as a photographer to find the beauty and (of course the light) in these moments you feel are boring everyday things, like your mum washing and peeling potatoes and vegetables on a Sunday morning.


Your dad, washing his work boots outside. When, in reality, they're the most monumental magical moments that we all want to remember in years down the line. Or when someone has sadly left us. 



Let me put it to you in another way if you could have a box of images in front of you now from when you were a child. What are the fondest and dearest memories you would like to be in that box as a tangible form? 

Mine would be laying on the sofa with my nan. Or watching her bake cakes and me licking the mixing bowl or;



When we (my siblings) got up for school in the mornings, my mum would have all our uniforms ironed on the back of our chairs and a selection of breakfast waiting on the table.( With Tammmy Wynette playing in the background)  Toast rack and all! (you wouldn't have believed we lived in a let's say 'not so influent area'.)  I know that sounds like everyday stuff because it is, but boy would I love to have soulful images like that. Even the house decor, just to remember those or so little but extremely significant things. 



If you could have memories from your childhood in a photograph, what would they be?


What memories would you like to be able to hand to your children in 10 - 20 years? 

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