Unique Approach to Family Photography

“Lifestyle” vs. “Documentary Family Photography” - What’s the difference?

By Lenae Litzinger (Randy’s wife, fellow artist, and occasional second shooter)

Randy and I both have a passion for documenting authentic reality. Not focusing on perfection and trying to stage an artificial representation, but instead capturing those genuine moments and emotion. And that statement comes from two perfectionists! haha. We get it. The temptation to gravitate towards staged and heavily photoshopped pictures is strong. Yet our desire to capture images that will bring back incredible memories of true events between family members, is much stronger….

Often we hire photographers to help us look our best. So we spend time picking out perfect outfits, primping, and cleaning or scouting out the the perfect location. Then we set up a perfect artificial “moment,” all with the goal of creating a picturesque photo shoot that will hopefully capture the family in a moment of pure bliss or enchanting serenity while appearing to be natural. This style of photography is often referred to as “Lifestyle”. It’s aim is to stage a moment that looks candid, in it’s best light, with artistic flair and often a lot of posing, directing, and repeating actions. There’s nothing wrong with that. Lifestyle photography is beautiful and can produce wonderful images, whether perfectly genuine or not. Let’s be honest though - it’s exhausting. Often leaving you and everyone involved with not so pleasant memories. You get those perfect photos for the Christmas card and no one has to see the frustration, sweat, tears and bribes, that went into making it happen. Yet, Randy and I have found, that when we look back at said “perfect” photos, we tend to remember not the lovely happy family the picture portrays, but more so the drama of that shoot. Speaking here from experience both in front of and behind the camera....

What we like about “Documentary Family Photography” is that it emulates pure photojournalism. It’s understood that you don’t direct your subjects or pose them. You don't stage or move things in the frame and you never ask the subject to repeat an action or moment you missed. A documentary photographer doesn’t influence the scene, they just capture what happens naturally. Taking this approach frees the photographer to focus on the actual moments unfolding. We get to use our artistic eye and intuition to freeze a moment in time that tells a story and/or captures genuine emotion. It’s challenging and yet so exciting. And we LOVE that…

We are not trying to convince you that one way is superior to the other. Only sharing our personal passion and suggesting there is room for both approaches. If we’ve peaked your interest in more natural and relaxed photographic images of your family doing things you enjoy in places you love and feel comfortable, then let’s talk. Invite us into your world and capture those raw, real life moments that make your heart sing - Immortalizing memories that, years from now, will take you right back to the moment and make you wish you could do it all over again.

Anything your family enjoys together will make for a great shoot the kids won't complain about!
  • Children cooking with a parent or grandparent
  • Family game night
  • Bedtime routine
  • Pumpkin patch or Christmas tree farm
  • Hanging out with Grandma or Grandpa (or great grandparents)
  • A kid’s sports game or recital
  • Picnic at a favorite park
  • A homeschool day
  • Learning to ride a bike
  • Everyday moments at home
  • Mini golf or bowling outing
  • Church or community event
  • First day of school
  • Birthday parties
  • The birth of a child
  • Exercising or hiking together
  • Morning routine
  • Playing in the yard
  • Arts and crafts projects at home
  • Trip to a favorite ice cream place
  • Family traditions
  • Holiday events and traditions
  • Apple or blueberry picking
  • Working on a school project
  • Exploring or learning a new skill together
Rates start at $100 for a 30 minute session, $200 for a 1 hour session, and $275 for a 2 hour session (post work and digital image files are included). Email for more detailed information:
Check out the list of ideas above and our Documentary Family Photography gallery to help get you inspired: