What Life Looks Like for Cortney + Brandon | Documentary Couples Session

If you've read around my blog much at all, you know that I absolutely *adore* documentary sessions. I wanted to walk you through the process of what it's like to have a documentary session taken!

This couples session was SO MUCH FUN. Cortney and Brandon were celebrating their 5 year anniversary, and wanted to have some professional pictures taken documenting what their lives look like now, while living in Hawaii for a few years. 

I always have my documentary session clients fill out two questionnaires. One for each individual person, and a group questionnaire to be filled out together, and then we build their session based off of the answers they gave me. The questionnaires also give me a chance to get to know each person a little bit and to anticipate certain character traits in order to photograph them. For example, Cortney told me that every day when they get home from work, she makes a snack or dinner and Brandon comes up behind her and gives her a kiss. Because she told me that I was able to anticipate it!

For their session, they told me they love to play games together, going to the beach, drinking their favorite drinks (iced coffee and smoothies) and reading. They also love their dog, Ben, and like to cuddle on the couch while watching a football game or TV.  We built a session around *all* of those things. Starting at their house, with making a snack, then cuddling on the couch to Bananagrams, then off to get some smoothies to play checkers at the beach! We worked together to build the session and allow it to flow naturally. 

I love how natural these photos are, and can only imagine how grateful they will be to have these photos of themselves someday when they are in a different stage of life with children and at a new station in a different state or maybe even a different country making new memories. 

I would like to point out that as the photographer at this session, I hardly did any posing, with the exception of a few posed photos at the beach. My documentary sessions feel more like we're just hanging out. I rarely instruct, ask anyone to move, fix hair or stand a certain way and smile. Documentary sessions are not contrived. Rather, I prepared them ahead of time of what to expect, and we went from there. I allowed them to be themselves, and was able to capture meaningful expressions and emotions as they unfolded. This session is full of memories—of things this couple likes to do together on a regular basis in order to preserve their memories in a photographic form. And as a bonus, we did a few posed photos on the beach.

What do you think about this process? If you were to have a documentary session taken of your family, what sort of memories would you want preserved? 


Hey there! Are you looking for a documentary photographer? You've come to the right place! I specialize in documentary birth, family and wedding photography. Take a look around my site, and contact me with any questions, I'd love connect with you and answer any questions you may have.