Adria Peaden Photographer » Adria is a photographer starting out in Panama City, FL. Read about her adventure starting a new business.

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Portraits from a Documentary Family Session

What will my documentary family session be like?  Part I

I have started to mention that I am planning on exclusively offering documentary style photography sessions for 2017 on.  There is a piece of me that feels like I need to explain what this would mean for my potential client.   The expectation of a client and my artistic eye need to mesh in order for this type of session to work.  This blog post series will answer some very popular questions from clients on this subject.

#1 Will I still have portraits?

Yes….but let’s change your idea behind what a portrait is.  Go way back to the beginning of camera history.  The first cameras required the subject to sit still for a long period of time while the camera exposed a picture onto a plate.  The resulting portrait had people with very little expression and a boring pose.  Fast forward to the studio photography days in Sears or Olan Mills.  Now we have backdrops and flashes but we are still posing in a single pose maybe now we have smiles.  So we have a generation of people who are used to those posed pictures and they have left that imprint on us.

There is nothing wrong with a smiley family looking at the camera.  I feel like there is a time, place and photographer for that simple beautiful portrait.  What I am saying is there is another spectrum to the portrait I want you to explore.

Consider your child laughing, crying, bored, confused, concentrating….insert any emotion.  Remember their face during those times?  Wouldn’t you love a picture of that moment?  As mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles it is so hard to sometimes capture that moment because we have trained our kids to smile and look at the camera, or worse yet say “Cheese”.  That is where I come in.  You may not know it yet, but those emotions are what you crave to see in your kids.  Those emotions are what make them tiny humans.  I want to have those emotions framed or in an album to keep forever.

These emotional portraits are what I will offer during a documentary family session.

Panama City Beach Family Photographer 2You remember how I said for this to work we have to mesh, well here is your chance to give it a shot.  How do you feel about these portraits?
Seaside Family Photographer 1I for one have a reaction to each and every one of them.  Some of them have my kids in them but most of them do not and I still react.
Panama City Beach Family Photographer 1Does this next one make you want to hear her giggle as she slides?  Yes!!!! Great we are getting there together.

Panama City Family Photographer 1This environmental portrait of this little boy is frameable.  What if he was smiling at the camera?  Would you get the same reaction from this picture?  I think not and I feel like this type of portrait is stronger.

Panama City Family Photographer 2How adorable is this little man.  What is he thinking?  Is this the face mom always sees when he is just about to be in trouble.  I would frame it….would you?

Portrait Photographer Panama City 1She is for sure an old soul.  Maybe the sea calls to her.  Somewhere between child and teenager she wants to find her place in the world.

Portrait Photographer Panama City 2

A portrait is so much more then smiles and eye contact.  I repeat that beautiful simple portraits aren’t bad and I in fact spend about 10-15 minutes of my hour session catching those classic stills.  The rest of my time is spent getting more raw with your family.  There is no pressure for your husbands, your kids or yourself to be or act a certain way.  Just be yourself.  Give it a chance.

If you are interested in more information on a 1 hour family session please email  Celebrating this new style I will be giving away sessions until the end of the year.  To be in on the announcements signup for my newsletter.

Panama City Documentary family photographer - portraits do not always have to be smiles at the camera
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  • Diamond NYC - March 9, 2017 - 6:18 am

    Wonderful work.. Yes, giving an emotional touch to portrait is always remembered by the family and it looks more beautiful than an unnatural smile.

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