How to Create More Storytelling Family Photographs

Documenting the Everyday

July 28, 2020

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Documenting the Everyday

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Sometimes it’s easy to simply snap a photo of the event or holiday so we can check that proverbial box of a job well done in documenting our family’s memories. However, today I wanted to share with you the concept of taking it a bit further and how to create more storytelling family photographs. Why would this even be important? I know for myself, I have found effort invested in this area to be a true gift. Just with my immediate family, when I am reminiscing and when I go back to a specific time or event and see the story laid out, I am better able to remember that time more vividly. And I can only imagine how much more of a gift that will become as the years go on. 

Creating more storytelling family photographs is the act of photographing both people and details. And not just faces – but interactions and emotions. It’s documenting the scene as a whole. Remember, we want to tell the story and that goes far beyond one photo.

I think the best way for me to share this concept is to pull examples from my own family archives. When you scroll through the photographs below, I think you will see exactly what it is I am trying to convey. 

Let’s begin with an everyday example

This was back in 2013 and when we lived in Arizona. Nothing beats monsoon season in the desert and we have always loved soaking it up which inevitably includes jumping puddles and getting soaked.

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(Images taken using a Canon 7D with a Canon 50mm 1.2 lens)

The goal is to look for more opportunities than just one picture when you are behind the camera. Watch for expressions, for emotions, for details. Watch for those pieces that string together to tell the story of the moment.

It would have been extremely easy for me to simply take one photo of all three kids together as a way to document the moment. However, seeing everything brought together – rain boots splashing in the puddles, the droplets on their faces, the expressions and smiles – I can honestly say that when I look at these photographs I remember this moment exactly. 

Jarett and I stood under the overhang of our garage watching the kids enjoy themselves as I ran back and forth in and out of the water capturing the fun, my camera wrapped in a plastic bag to keep as much moisture out as possible. I remember the kids being soaked and making them strip down at the back door as Jarett and I wrapped them up in swim towels afterward.

Let’s take it a step further with a family vacation

My goal in telling the story of a family vacation is to not only follow those same guidelines of documenting people and details but also to capture a beginning and an end. Not only does it help tell the story visually, but it is helpful as well if later in the future you decide to make it into a travel album or something in particular for your family archives.

This was our trip up to the family cabin in Island Park, Idaho back in 2014.

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I love the mundane moments of a vacation. This was a quick snapshot of the boys in the hotel after driving for hours on end the day before.

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The family cabin in Idaho was such a special place and the best part was always getting to visit with my grandmother-in-law on our way up to the woods. She was an incredible woman and we adored her. 

Keep in mind those little details of favorite places as well. The ones that when the family sees they instantly are flooded with some of their favorite memories growing up. This is the little corner market just down the street from the cabin where we grab snacks and our favorite treats while staying.

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Now, it could be possible that my mind can recall all of the details of these memories with it them just six years ago. However, something tells me that it’s the collection of photos that help draw out those fading details from my memory. And my hope is that when I am old and gray, that the effort I invested in creating more storytelling photographs will allow every memory to be as clear as the day it happened. Because that sounds like a beautiful gift indeed.

You can find more photography tips, memory keeping ideas, and inspiration right here as well as following along as I share everyday life here.

And if you want to take it a step further, I invite you to check out the Documenting the Everyday educational series. I would love to have you!

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