How do you want to be photographed? What types of photography are there??

black and white photo of mom kissing her son as she holds him

How do YOU want to be photographed?

There are SO MANY types of family photography that I imagine it gets confusing… I’m going to break down the basic genres for you, so you can decide which kind of family photo session works best for YOUR kids.

Starting with the one you’re probably most familiar with…

1. Traditional Studio Portrait Photography

studio portrait of family on sofa

With traditional studio portraits, you know exactly what you’re going to get. The photographer controls the location, the lighting, and directs your expressions. You basically have to show up, do what she says, and be happy… and convince your kids to do the same!

There ARE variations within this photography style, though, so look at a photographer’s full portfolio to get a good feeling of what you are investing in. Some traditional photographers are looking for a simpler, dramatic look. Others use photoshop to create whimsical fantasy scenes. And of course there is the very basic mall portraiture or school picture backdrop.

Traditional photo sessions provide images that are classic and timeless, and usually formal.


2. Traditional On-Location Family Photography

Colorful family portrait by the dunes on the beach

There are a lot of similarities between this traditional on-location and traditional studio portraiture. When shooting on-location in this way, your photographer still controls the lighting and directs your poses/expressions toward the camera. You will have more input on location, but your overall experience is still very much directed and your portraits are definitely more traditional, with all of the subjects looking at the camera.


3. Lifestyle Family Photography

family of four sitting on a blanket at sunset, laughing and looking at the little girl

The intent of lifestyle family photography is to portray very naturally happy families in very beautiful light. These pictures LOOK candid and DO portray real emotions, but it is all set up and directed by the photographer.

Lifestyle sessions may be in your living room, or in your backyard or local park. (This is something that you will coordinate with your photographer.) She may also help you coordinate your clothing or any props you would like to use for the photoshoot.

On the day of your photo session your photographer will be directing you. She will find the best light and place you there, then encourage giggling interactions with games and fun jokes. There are lots of tickles and jumping and hugs. Because of this, it’s important you find a photographer that you know your family will jive with, to ensure everybody is as relaxed as possible for your photoshoot.

Lifestyle sessions are meant to be FUN! Your pictures will reflect a pinterest-friendly happy family enjoying life together.


4. Documentary Family Photography

dog runs away from mom and baby sitting on blanket, with mom yelling at him

Documentary family photography is UNPOSED. The photographer’s goal is to capture artistic photographs that tell the story of who you actually are.

These family pictures CAN be similar to lifestyle family photos when kids and parents naturally play and laugh together. But your photographer will not TELL you to giggle and tickle and goof off, to trigger those interactions. She hangs out, chatting amiably with you, while photographing your day as it naturally unfolds.

Documentary photography tells a greater story than the happy playful family. It gets all the real bits in, too. If your child skins a knee, your photographer will keep on shooting. Because she wants you to have pictures you can treasure of yourself taking loving care of your baby.

These sessions are very easy, because they require no prepping ahead of time (clothes/location) or bribery for your kids to behave. It’s an honest portrayal of your real lives, as candidly as a photojournalist would capture it.

Ultimately you are investing in the SERIES of photos, not just one picture to hang on the wall. These images work well TOGETHER, either paired on the wall or in a family album. Below are a collection of photos from an actual documentary session.


All right, Pamela. So which kind of photographer are you?

The short answer is that I photograph families in both a lifestyle and documentary way.

Mini sessions are lifestyle portraits- lightly directed and fun!

My family sessions are documentary-based, but each of my clients receives complimentary lifestyle portraits as well during their session, if they choose to do so. So you don’t have to choose between portraits or a documentary session for your family! You can have the authentic feeling of a documentary session paired with some happy directed portraits as well. It’s my favorite mix because you can get the best of both worlds in one session!


How do I know if we would be a good fit?

When considering a new photographer, look at her portfolio. Make sure the work in her portfolio is consistent- and that it reflects the style that you’re looking for. Keep in mind that a photographer’s portfolio is a handful of her BEST images, and not always indicative of the depth and breadth of what you will actually receive from your own session. To better get an idea of what you will receive, ask to see a full gallery of images that your photographer provided to an ACTUAL CLIENT.

Happy to share some client galleries with you to browse through. And looking forward to chatting!

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Pamela Anticole

Serving PA OH & Beyond

Pamela Anticole is a Pittsburgh based newborn and family photographer. Her award winning style is thoughtful and emotional, and your client experience is both relaxed and fun!


Pamela will photograph your baptism, birthday party, anniversary, bar/bat mitzvah, or wedding in a documentary style learned as a newspaper photojournalist. It is her focus on real, natural relationships and ability to anticipate emotional candid moments that bring sensitivity to her work as a documentary photographer. Pamela is located in the Wexford area of Pittsburgh, PA and available for family photography within 45 miles of downtown Pittsburgh. She also offers photography education for parents both online and on location in person in the Pittsburgh area.