Photography is an art. The thing that differentiates it from other art forms is how it can literally freeze a moment in time. The feelings and emotions of a moment can be transformed into an image. The small moments we may forget can be held onto forever.


Photography isn’t just for the big events like weddings, birthdays, or yearly photo sessions. It is also a way to document each little thing that has importance in your life. In this post you will learn how to use documentary photography (or lifestyle photography which it is often referred to) to tell the story of your life. These documentary photography tips will help you take more candid photos that depict your everyday.

documentary photography

Actionable Documentary Photography Tips


From Morning to Night

Most likely your day starts early and ends late. Start by taking a photo of your clock or the small lamp that’s on in the dark house when no one else is awake. Take photos throughout the day even when you feel it’s a mundane task. It’s these mundane tasks that make up your day to day and they are beautiful.


Focus on the scene

As you are photographing, try to get all the layers you see. Step back to show the whole room from different angles. Then look for the little details that make up the scene.The goal is to capture where you are, what you are doing, and the feelings of the moment. Move around and photograph from all different angles and all different focal lengths in order to get the complete story.

documentary photography

Use a tripod

It is important that you get into some of these images. When you are documenting your life in photos, you should be present in many of the photos. In order to do this, you may need a tripod. You can set it up in a space where you will be playing or reading with your kids and use a remote to get a few images. You may also use a tripod in lower light situations. As long as the movement is minimal you can get clear images with slower shutter speeds when you use a tripod. These slower speeds will allow you to let more light into your camera. If you aren’t sure how to use the shutter speed, sign up for my free course, Manual Mode Made Simple.

How to take better photos

Think about the composition

Look for unique perspectives as you photograph. Challenge yourself and your view. Rather than placing your subject in the center of the frame, use the rule of thirds to make your shot more interesting. Watch your horizon line or other lines such as counters and doorways. The same photo will look completely different by adjusting the composition just slightly so play around with your position.

documentary Photography

Tell a story

Before you start to take photos when you are doing documentary photography, think through the story you want to tell. Is it your day to day story, the story of who your kids are at this moment, or something else? Thinking through the story will help you choose what to photograph and what details to focus on.

documentary photography

Don’t think about Facebook or Instagram

This is not the time to try and tell a story you will want to share on social media. You’re not trying to create a story or make it look perfect. You want to really tell the honest story and get the raw photos you may not choose to share on Facebook.


Embrace the mess and imperfection

You may want to tidy up certain spaces, but don’t make the area sterile. These photographs will mean more to you and your kids if it looks and feels like your house. The photos don’t have to look perfect and your house doesn’t have to look perfect. Instead try to capture your perfectly imperfect life.

documentary photography

Learning to take documentary photos or lifestyle photos can be a great way to get photographs that truly tell your story.


What to do now:

Look around your house for items you don’t want to forget. A favorite stuffed animal, a puzzle on the floor, Kix cereal pieces under the table, a pile of laundry on the chair, and start by practicing with these items. Tag me on Instagram (@athomewithkidsblog) and show me your favorite photos.


If you haven’t already, sign up to get this series sent straight to your inbox. The series consists of 31 photography lessons that will challenge and inspire your photography so you can preserve your most treasured moments.