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YORK PLACE

PHOTO & FILM STUDIO

FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY

WHY SMILING AT THE CAMERA IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR FAMILY

Why an unposed, informal, reportage photography style is the only way to truly capture family memories

What if instead of people standing neatly in a line, your family photo album was full of real memories and real personality?

Flipping through your family photo albums always brings back incredible memories, as well as the usual series of questions:

“Who’s that?” “Do you remember that day?” “Where was this?” “What on EARTH are you wearing in that one?!”

A family album is a treasure-trove, an archive of your personal history, a record to pass on from generation to generation. It’s how we learn about our great-grandparents, how we remember loved ones, how we record key moments in our family life.

But what if the photographs didn’t just remind us of how our family looked or where we’d been, but actually showed us a little of their personality? What if instead of everyone doing their best to smile as they stand in a carefully orchestrated line in front of a landmark, the photographs showed the real stories behind that day and those precious memories?

That focus on real moments, real interactions between people is where documentary photography really shines. Unlike the more traditional family portraits the photographs are captured spontaneously, directly in the moment, and usually over a period of time. That sense of spontaneity, the fact that you as the subject don’t know precisely when the photographer is going to press the shutter means that even the most guarded in front of the camera can’t help but drop that learned frozen response and show a little bit more personality in the photos.

Nowhere is the idea of exploring personality in a photograph more important than in family photography. These photographs are not just to be enjoyed now, they are for your children to enjoy later, to relive a part of their childhood, to understand more about the members of their own family and what they were like at a different time in their lives. These are a personal record of your family and that’s why we believe they should truly represent you and the relationships you all share.

“Traditional family photographs show who was present and how they looked, and that can be magical to look back on. But documentary family photography adds to that an insight into who they really were.”

Family photoshoot in a garden. Girl drives a push play car in the foreground. Behind her and framed around the roof of the car a mother and son hug to the right of the frame and on the left a girl bounces on a spacehopperFamily Photography outside a Yorkshire home. Centre (rear) a woman is framed in the doorway. Right of the frame a young boy is silhouetted behind a sandpit. Left of the frame we can see a woman's legs and a small silhouetted dog

Family Photography Documenting Life At Home

The beauty of taking family photographs on location rather than the rather more abstract surrounds of a white box in the studio is that we can photograph not just the essence of you as a family through your expressions and connections but also through the way you interact with your home environment.

“Time changes meaning. What we dismiss now as everyday mundanity is a future memory of a personally significant time and place”

Looking back at those family pictures in years to come isn’t just interesting because of the people who are there but because of the way your surroundings will have changed. To us as family photographers, it’s endlessly fascinating to look back over the changes in style and fashion that affected our lives – the way that seemingly insignificant details from the past now seem extraordinary.

In 30 years time the car you drive now will seem alien. In 40 years time the way we dress now might seem equally bizarre. The fashions of our homes may not be timeless, but the memories that are created within them truly are. These photographs show the genuine fun you share together day-to-day as a family, and to us that’s far more powerful than just a smile in an empty white room.

Family photography captured in Nantucket USA. A man stands on a boulder attaching blue and white balloons to a signpost that reads Old Farm Road. Below the sign a man in shorts, T-shirt and a baseball cap looks for something in his pocket. On the left of the frame a girl holds a blue balloon.Family Photoshoot in a garden. At the front of the frame is a rideable red toy car with facial features. Behind and slightly to the left a boy stands holding a spacehopper in front of his face. The spacehopper has eyes and a smile, mirroring the face of the car.

Don't just show that you visited, capture the experience of being there together.

It’s not only home life that a documentary approach to family photography can bring such depth to; it’s also an incredible way to capture family trips.

When you plan a day out with your family it’s not just about going to see something or some place; it’s about seeing it with them. Sharing an experience with your family is just about the most valuable thing you can do, and naturally it’s something that you want to look back on and remember. 

But whilst we all love a good selfie, showing that you were there together is only half the story. As a parent it’s hard to truly embrace the moment. You’re always on the lookout for what the kids are up to, whether they need a drink, when they’re getting tired, what you need to do after this. It’s often only after the event itself that fond memories bring true joy back to the experience.

That’s where a professional documentary family photographer comes in – capturing real moments of the day; immersing themselves in the day in a way that you as a parent can’t always do, to capture magical moments forever.

Family photograph taken inside a home looking out to the garden. A little boy holds onto the doorframe, a pacifier in his mouth. Framed on the left we can see to the garden outside where a pop-up tent is setup, a Postman Pat toy propped up against it
Family Day Out photography on a beach by York Place. A Man is crouched down looking in a rock pool on the left of the image. Next to him is a bucket and opposite someone wearing wellington boots is standing holding a spade with a crab painted on it. In the centre of the frame in the background two girls are playing.

The York Place approach to family photography

Whether your family photoshoot takes place at home, out on a family day out or even on holiday, our approach is always the same. We don’t want you to stop and smile at the camera, we look to capture you as a family in full flow, embracing the spontaneity and all the little individual characteristics that make your family completely unique and completely fantastic!

We’re all taught at a young age that when we’re enjoying an experience the best way to remember that is to stop experiencing it, look up and say cheese. But whilst there’s absolutely a place for those shots, to us it’s not just about showing who was there and what they looked like, but capturing the memory of how it felt to be there.

Our family photography embraces the best traditions of street photography to capture not just any old family picture but a piece of art with you at the centre. Our work has received numerous accolades and taken us all around the world sharing our ideas but really the focus of our photographs is simple: it’s about people and relationships, and nowhere is the relationship more interesting than between members of the same family.

We allow plenty of time for our family photoshoots so you have the chance to get used to us and to relax around the camera. Unless you’d like one or two posed group shots we won’t ask anything of you at all on the day, we’ll just watch, observe and shoot the action as it happens, moving our own feet and making creative compositions in our trademark York Place style.

View some of our family photography on the blog

family portrait photography captured in a family garden - young girl in pink dress spins a hula hoop in the foreground, whilst in the background another girl holds a spacehopper as her brother approaches her with lobster claw toys replacing his hands

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Want to hear more?

To read more about documentary family photography, why it's imporant and how it works, click the button below to read our article on the subject
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We'd love to capture your family memories!

If you’d like our brother and sister team of family photographers to spend some time photographing a day in the life of your family at home, on a family day out, or even a family holiday we’d love to connect with you.
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I DON'T SAY IT ENOUGH, FROM STREET PHOTOGRAPHER TO STREET PHOTOGRAPHER, HOW ENDLESSLY AMAZED I AM AND HOW SPECIAL EACH AND EVERY PHOTO IS TO ME. YOU CAPTURED THE EPITOME OF WHAT MY HEART FEELS WHEN I REMEMBER THAT DAY, AND I'LL ALWAYS HAVE THAT. THESE PICTURES ARE MY FAMILY IN A CANDID NUTSHELL
- SHELBY & CREAGH

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