Real clients tell it how it is | The truth about documentary family sessions



They grow up fast, and when they do, they'll come searching for THESE photos of their childhood.


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TORN -- that's how you're feeling -- right?

austin documentary family photographer

ON THE ONE HAND: What could be better than a rich, intimate collection of photos that get at the essence of what your family's right now feels like.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Is it really worth it? Will the photos reflect our reality in a way that you'll LOVE?

ON THE ONE HAND: A family documentary session sounds so much more fun, easy, and low-pressure than a traditional photo shoot.

ON THE OTHER HAND: OMG. A full day with a photographer watching your every move? Yikes.

Let's just set the record straight -- straight from the mouths of these two clients/writers/parents, who just booked their second annual Day in the Life photo session with me for later this spring!

austin documentary family photographer
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about being the subject of a day-long photo shoot. It was my birthday and I was concerned it would amount to 12 hours of posing, doing reshoots and manufacturing “moments”.

It was none of the above. Aside from being a lovely person to spend the day with, [Aleks] thrives and delivers in several ways...

She was the ideal combination of being a wallflower and a supportive director, making sure not to disrupt the natural flow of individual moments, the morning, the meal, the day in general, and also knowing how to bring out the best photographic performances from all of us.

And she brings zero judgment to the table, which allowed us all to let our guards down and be ourselves.

As for her craft, she has an exquisite talent for capturing the moments between the moments, the ones that far-more represent real family life with all of its whims, humor, emotions, imperfections, normality and, at times, natural disorder.

And she makes art out of all of that. Great art.

She essentially turns the minutiae of everyday life into a full-on gallery show. That’s how effective her eye is, how much she can squeeze out of passing moments. And she was so good at not only bringing out all of our personalities, making us feel comfortable and in general feeling like we were all a team in the process, she also has a real talent for capturing (dare I say) the essence of a person, a scene, a moment, in a way I’ve never witnessed before from a photographer.

There’s a real voice to her work and that’s rare. It’s intimate. It’s personal. It’s real. If pictures are worth 1000 words, Aleks’ are worth 10,000.
austin documentary family photographer
Aleks is no ordinary photographer. I made this realization over a span of months, observing image after image that made its way into my FB feed. Inside the everyday chaos of family life, inside the seemingly mundane was a revelation. That of the ordinary becoming truly extraordinary.

It was a visual epiphany, realizing that the “messy” truth is brimming with so much more staggering beauty than any posed and poised niceties we’ve been taught to see as picture perfect.

I wanted the truth she was documenting though I must admit to being a little scared of seeing my own family’s glorious mess mirrored back to us.

What would it be like to have another witness—from sunup to sundown—tag along for a full day? Could we actually surrender as a family to this process? Would it be too much on all the levels (including toddler insanity)?

My conclusion: I cannot imagine undertaking a day-in-the-life series with anyone other than Aleks. Yes, she is by every measure a visionary in her craft but it is her kind, witty, warm and reassuring presence that allowed us to surrender to an experience that was indeed picture perfect. Picture perfect in being both visually exquisite (as the photographs are beyond incredible) while also truthful in their transparency.

For those moments that were once mundane, chaotic, perhaps even overlooked because of exhaustion... Aleks rendered these moments anew. Inside the insignificant act of pulling our toddler from his high chair during a minor meltdown we now see an everyday gesture imbued with the sacred struggle of what it means to be a family trying our best to navigate the everyday together.

What Aleks’ photographs give me is a lens to take back to everyday life, and realize we can relish in the unrivaled beauty of the messiness. Because today’s version of exquisite chaos is fleeting.

I hope to maintain an annual tradition of having Aleks capture a day in our life so that as our family storybook grows, our investment in the documenting of time together in this wild experiment known as life continues to open our eyes to what remains forever cosmic.

Thank you Aleks!
— Kelly C

As a side note, the tradition of an annual Day in the Life session is my absolute favorite as a photographer. Last year at our session, this family lived in a transitional rental home. Finn was obsessed with his yellow plastic car. The terrible twos were alive and well, mom and dad had to watch him like a hawk to keep him out of trouble, they were elbow-deep in diapers, and family life still felt kind of new. None of these facts hold any longer, and I can't wait to see what this year's photo day reveals!

Daydreaming of your own documentary session? Contact me for a fun, free brainstorming consult!