7 Activities for Your documentary family Photography Session

7 Activities for Your documentary family Photography Session

Family documentary photography sessions are awesome because you don’t have to plan anything at all, but, if you feel you’d like some guidance, here are 7 activities for your documentary family photography session. I truly love capturing my family clients in their natural habitat doing whatever they normally do. I’m along for the ride, so there is no need for finding matching outfits. However, it is nice to have a loose plan sometimes, and I find this especially important if there are older kids in the mix. All of these ideas are great for any age, so plan something fun and enjoy your session.

1. bake something

Baking together is a great activity to capture during your session. Big kids and little kids alike generally love to throw something together, and though licking the spoon might be a habit better left in the 70s and 80s, there’s still a treat to look forward to at the end of this activity. Add to the actual mixing of ingredients, the cleanup afterwards and there are a lot of opportunities to capture your family interacting.

Mom and daughter cooking breakfast together during a documentary family photography session.
Three sisters playing chess during a documentary family photography session.
A high school senior sitting in the softball dugout with a baseball bat and glove.

2. play a game or a sport during your documentary family session

If your family is into board games (or card games), this is another great opportunity to have some fun with family while I capture all the frivolity. I don’t know about you, but my kids really liked to play Sorry when they were little, and Chess is a popular one as they get older. Another ah-mazing game that I highly recommend: Dixit. The artwork is incredible and even the littles can play.

Other ideas include getting the band together and play some music with the family, or get outside to play some sports.

3. TAKE A HIKE AND DOCUMENT IT!

We live in an area with incredible beauty, so go take a hike with your family! I love recording kids on a hike, because they really are little scientists and love to look at everything, build fairy houses in the woods, peek under rocks and branches, or pretend to be pirates. This is a great activity document and can really showcase your kids’ personalities.

While we’re outside, don’t forget to bring the snacks, and might as well throw a blanket down for a picnic during the hike. I don’t know about you, but the best way I got my kids to hike when they were little was to promise a snack at the next big rock (and the next one, and the next one …. there were a LOT of stops). We never made it very far, but they enjoyed the hike this way, and our dog got a walk out of it too.

A family hiking near the Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado during a documentary family photography session.
A little girl in a smock painting on a canvas during a documentary family photography session.

4. CREATE SOME ART

Kids love to create pretty much anything! Get out some paper and crayons or colored pencils and let them have at it! My kids always loved to paint too, and though this is messier, it is ripe with great documentary opportunities.

One thing we loved to do during the pandemic was to paint rocks – friends could come over and you could social distance while catching up. Older kids love this too because you can experiment with all sorts of patterns on your rock. Take those painted rocks and make a little meditation garden in your yard (acrylic paint is best for this, so it doesn’t just wash off in the rain).

Art doesn’t just have to be on paper. My kiddo likes to create art on many different mediums, including frosty window panes. Check out this award-winning photo here.

5. BUILD SOMETHING TOGETHER WITH YOUR FAMILY

Build something together – can be a sand castle at the beach, or a pillow fort in your living room! This is such a great way for the kids to have some fun, get creative, and they might even decide to act out some fun fantasy. This offers tons of opportunities to capture great photos of you and your kids. Also, I’m not above crawling around in a good pillow fort from time to time.

A little girl and her grandmother building as sandcastle on the beach during a documentary family photography session.
A little girl looking at the snowman she built during a documentary family photography session.
A little girl reading a book to her mom during a documentary family photography session.

6. READ A BOOK OR TELL SOME FAMILY STORIES

There’s nothing better than cuddling up with a good book. Having a pile of kiddos all cuddled up to read together is not only good for their brains, but also, a little rest time for everyone. Some of my kids favorite books: Skippy Jon Jones, Blueberries for Sal, and of course, Harry Potter.

One thing I love as a kid was when my parents would get the family photo album out and tell my brothers and I stories from those photos. This is an incredible opportunity for your kids to see and hear about where they came from and how special they are to the family.

7. DO SOME GARDENING with your family during your photography session

If it’s warm out, gardening is another great activity to capture during your family documentary photography session. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 5 foot tomato plants, or your garden just needs to be weeded – kids usually love playing in the dirt. Want to make it interesting? Get the hose out and create that mud-pile for them to wallow in.

Two brothers playing in the dirt during a documentary family photography session.
Two little girls helping their grandfather in the garden during a documentary family photography session.

IN SUMMARY

There are a million other activities to do during your family documentary photography session, and the sky is the limit, for sure. The key, though, is to capture the moments of your family life, the relationships and interactions, and all the personality. Want to take it a step further? Add a documentary family film to the mix and walk away with more than just the photos, but capture their voices too!

KIND WORDS

“Not only did the pictures turn out beautifully, but she was able to work within the energies of our two kiddos jumping off of rocks, and in and out of shadows in order to capture moments we will treasure forever.”

A photographer in Boulder, Colorado.

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Because your life is a story worth telling.