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I can't wait to capture your next gathering, grocery store trip, or a coffee with a friend. Documentary-style photography is for all-types of people, but especially those who value meaning over beauty. You don't have to be a family with little kids to want to document your life. Family is so much more than parents and children, it is the people you chose to make meaningful connections with. 


The importance of not forcing a story during your documentary photo session with Alexandria VA family photographer Janae Bixby

Family, Session Info

Documentary family photography sessions can be a HUGE mental shift from the types of family photo sessions we are used to participating in, especially for families in the Northern Virginia area who tend to invest in family photos quite frequently. We are so used to performing for the camera, to get the photos we think we need. It’s almost like we are worried that just our boring every day stuff isn’t interesting or beautiful enough to be photographed, the we need to be smiling, laughing, moving, dancing for a photo.

I am here to tell you, you don’t need to move, dance, smile OR laugh to get great family photos. You don’t need to force any of that. The only type of smiles or laughter I want to document are the kind that happen because you’re truly engaged in something you love doing (which, unless you’re a professional model, I can almost guarantee that posing and performing for a camera is not something you love doing).

This is why I only offer sessions with a minimum of 2 hours (and I recommend sessions that are much longer)- so that you can start to feel comfortable in front of the camera and stop performing. It’s in those moments that you’re more focused on your task in-hand than making for good photos that the stuff worth documenting occurs.

An in-home family documentary photo session in Fairfax, VA

The S. Family had SO much love and connection worth documenting in their home. First off, as always, pets are a YES. Give me all of the pets. Another fun family session involving pets. Things were already off to a great start with this family session. But what I could relate to most with this family is that their child suffered from frequent ear infections, just had tubes installed that subsequently didn’t last very long (check, check on similar life experiences here in my own family), and most relatable- their daughter didn’t have much interest in eating while on frequent antibiotics (a story we ALL can relate to).

My own kid had 13 ear infections in just over a year, had months with 2 infections, and was at one point on antibiotics for more than a month straight after developing ear infections that didn’t resolve with the standard amoxicillin. He didn’t eat much at all due to constant stomach upset, and was very speech delayed due to near full-time fluid in his ears. Though we knew he needed tubes, COVID and the cancellation of all “elective” surgeries dashed our hopes. Then once surgeries were again available, the backlog was so great it took months to get in. My own son had his first ear tube surgery at around 1.5 years old. Once his tubes fell out, his second surgery for tubes was a 2-hour surgery paired with an adenoidectomy and hearing test using some fancy equipment because he failed all of the normal hearing tests. Thankfully it was all successfully and ear tubes changed all of our lives for the better. All that to say, I could relate strongly with the stress this family was going through.

On this particular day, their daughter was a day or two into an ear infection (and thankfully was receiving medical treatment), and she was not into eating. She was a resilient spirit who had so much fun during our photo session, with lots of genuine laughs.

But the real point I am getting at here, is my favorite part of the whole short story with this family was in the last 30 minutes of our session, when we weren’t worried about the camera and instead her parents were focused on trying to feed her. The result were some incredibly relatable (and adorable) photos of who really has the power when it comes to meal time (hint, we all know it ain’t us parents).

I just have to make a special note here. Out of all of the photos from this day, this is my most favorite and also the one I most yearn to have the opportunity to recreate. My camera had tried to focus on the dogs face hidden behind the hair obscuring it’s face, and the moment was so quick I didn’t get to refocus. But what I LOVE LOVE LOVE here are the human feet framing the dog feet and the fact that both this dog and it’s human have the same hair style. This photo has so much one-ness about it to me. Despite nothing being in focus, I’ll always love it.

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