Running a Family Photo Session at a Park Documentary Style

A Favorite Pastime and Play in this Family Photo Session

First things first, I shot this session with my Nikon d610 and my Nikon 35 mm f/2.0 lens. It’s my standard gear for everything. I also only used the available natural light.

When I asked this mama to pick a family memory that she wanted me to capture during their session, she told me that they love to play at the park and play baseball together. I knew that’s exactly what we needed to capture! We planned the session in the evening at a really cool park that they frequent and we hoped for some really pretty light. No such luck. We ended up with a really dark kind of overcast evening. Because I knew I would be capturing a lot of movement, I really had to bump my ISO (2000!) to compensate for a faster shutter speed.

While this awesome mama really got the idea of a documentary session from the beginning, the kids weren’t so sure at first. As they were setting up their baseball gear, I told the kids that they just needed to play with each other as if I wasn’t there and I would observe some and then start snapping pictures. I told them that they didn’t need to look at me. They were in charge of the session and could play where they wanted and I would just follow where they led. That really helped the girls feel comfortable. But the boy was still pretty uncomfortable halfway through the session, so I put the camera down for a couple of minutes and asked him a few questions about his life. That really helped him to loosen up and enjoy playing with his family, too!

I really love how this session really tells the story of their love for each other! You see the love that this mama has for her kids! When she joyfully smiled as she watched them play together. When she came to her middle’s rescue with her daughter climbed too high and got scared. You see the love that these kids have for their mama! When the youngest grabbed her mama’s hand. When the middle wrapped her arms so tight around her mama. You see the love that the kids have for each other! When the girls were swinging together. When the big brother ran over to give his sister a high five as she slid down the slide. I think it’s this love that makes this session so special!


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Guest Post writing and images from photographer, Melissa Hines

You can follow Melissa at the following:

Website // Instagram // Facebook



Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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