Fearless and Framed’s Double Dog Dare to Photographers | Fearless and Framed

Fearless and Framed’s Double Dog Dare to Photographers

It’s time to think outside the box. It’s time to go beyond posed photo sessions, lifestyle photo sessions, and even every day photos. Take the double dog dare to photographers to make the list that will change your thinking in how you approach your next photo session. And if that doesn’t work, I have a couple of 100+ year old photos that will prove our point (you will see them at the end of this post).

photos of memories

The dare

Take a moment to think of your greatest memories. Think of the time spent (recent or in the past) with your favorite people: your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, your favorite Aunt, your bestie, your spouse, your Grandma, your Papa, your oldest cousin that you never got to see as often as you’d like, your son, your daughter, your mentor or coach, the neighbor you grew up living next to, or even your pet. No seriously, grab a pen and paper and list 5-10 of those people. Then, jot down 3 favorite memories next to each person on your special people list. It will be a challenge to think on the spot, but JUST DO IT. This doesn’t have to be done in 5 minutes; dig deep and marinate in your memory bank.

My own dare

Have you started writing yet? Of course not, you’re still reading, so let me give you a little nudge. Quite often your memories are of little bits of time. You may think of bigger memories like an incredible trip you experienced or time period with this person also.

I have a list far too long of special people in my world to share, so here is just a brief 5 that I hope fuels your memory search (the highlighted text will mean something in a moment):

My husband – our 3 week adventure across the country, when he proposed to me on the Ambassador bridge at the international line, when we did our Tim Horton’s drive-through breakfast dates every week before kids.

My mom – back-to-school shopping and eating Hot Stix at the food court, driving up north to the family cabin blaring Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey, our girls’ weekend trips when dad would go hunting.

My Grandma – I used to spend 3-4 days with her a few times over the summer and loved every minute: she taught me to crotchet, we made iced tea, and once we had the most amazing tea party the summer before she passed away.

My son – he always greets people he loves with a big, open-mouth kiss, the nights of putting him back to bed after a bottle and rubbing his back til he was asleep, he would turn our kitchen into a lake after a sink bath.

My daughter – when she wakes before her brother, she comes into my room and whispers, “The sun’s up, momma. Get up.” One of our favorite things to do together is cook soup or muffins in the kitchen and we snuggle regularly on the couch watching movies.

My sister – we used to go on adventures in the woods up north (once being attached by a swarm of mean ol’ bees!), we loved to play the lava game in our bedrooms, we climbed the apples trees in our back yard growing up and probably spent more time up a tree than on the ground.

The list Becomes the vision

So now that you have your list of people and memories, how do you feel? Pretty darn good? You have this sense of accomplishment and love for all you’ve achieved with this person and your time shared. These details have made your relationship with them what it is today. You may feel a bit like, “I wish I could go back in time” or “I hope this stage never ends.” You may feel gratitude or joy.

Now let’s take those feelings and push the nostalgic envelope. Do you have an old box of photos? (Who doesn’t?) This list would have been super easy to create had you opened the box before you made your list. When you look at those old photos, it doesn’t matter if they are “technically correct” (whatever that means, anyway). When you look at them, all your brain sees are the memories. These photos are an heirloom piece.

Only the items on my list in gold text above are memories I have photos of. I think it’s an interesting timeline of those memories from my childhood (no photos) and those that I take now primarily since I’m now a mom and photographer. The photos of my trip with my hubby are mostly of the scenery, my husband, and some selfies of us together. They don’t hold many of me in-the-moment and there are zero of us together aside from cheesy, tourist, looking-at-the-camera type photos. They certainly would be more powerful had a photographer tagged along for bits and pieces of our trip as a silent travel buddy.

Go back to your list. How many items on that list don’t you have photos for? This is why offering a documentary-style photo session is so impactful to your clients.

Getting clients on board

Clients aren’t going to understand a documentary photo style of shooting from the get-go. It’s growing, but it isn’t as popular as the viral photos that are the lifestyle or posed styles. Even if they are drawn to a photo that came from a documentary style session, they aren’t going to understand how that photo was achieved. Most people that have had a session before will simply expect another session to be run similar.

They expect to be told what to do during the session.

This is why your pre-session planning is so important. You must set the expectations and explain to them that you will truly be like a fly on the wall. To be able to be the fly on the wall, you have to plan something to truly document. Something more than going to a park or urban, downtown setting. Something that stems from real life memories. So have them start by making their own memory list like you have now done. (Seriously, you better do it!)

Just like it may have been challenging to create your list, it will be hard for them to think of session ideas on the spot when you say something like, “what’s something special you do together?” Their mind will go blank. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients tell me, “We just don’t do anything fun and cute.” or “I wish my kids were younger.” I’m here to tell you, those are excuses!! Their brain is getting pulled to all the photos in their head they’ve seen on the internet of families holding hands and walking away from the camera or playing in fall leaves. Encourage them to take this dare to make a memory list. Then, have them highlight the memories that are still occurring. Remind them that you are the professional and you need them to dig deep. It’s got to be a built-in part of your policy.

Once your client has submitted their list to you, have a conversation with them about which memories speak strongest to their heart and soul. Another amazing part about this list tool is that you will be able to weed out the clients that think they want your type of session, but don’t. Some people truly want the lifestyle or posed type images, and that’s ok too. If it’s not what you are trying to achieve for your photography business, then you know you aren’t a perfect client/photographer match. If you are a perfect match, then you build a session off of those memories. They will literally do something – some sort of activity – and you will photograph them in action. The Family History Photo Sessions ebook is about how I run these sessions.

It would have been the most cherished photos if we would have had a photographer for one of the road trips up north with my mom or someone to follow my sister and I around for our childhood adventures. These memories will forever sit in my memory bank. What memories do you wish you had photos of?

The Proof is the in the Pudding (what does that mean anyway?)

When people start envisioning their life and reflecting on all of the love and joy these memories bring, they will want to have photo proof of it all. They will want to have the photos not just for today, but for 20 years from now when their life is in a new place. They will want to have these photos to pull out of their “old photo box” with them in them and say to their Grandchildren,

“This is where we met. This is how we used to spend our summers. Your mom was so hard to get to sleep through the night and this is the chair I sat in night after night rocking her to sleep. This is what your Great-Grandfather and I used to do on Sunday mornings – I wish you could have met him. He was simply the best. Your dad and I used to go on these spontaneous trips across the country….”

I dare you to run a Documentary Style Session today. And then come back and show us here at Fearless and Framed! If this post was helpful, please share or pin it.

Before you go… in case you choose truth over dare

If all of that isn’t enough, how about some photos to pack the visual punch in what we’re saying over here. Take a look at this series of photos. The first 7 are were shot on the fly – modern documentary style {unstaged} with my editing flair. Black and white photos speak to my heart, so that’s how I edit, but I included one in color for you color lovers.

Peaceful Baby:

dare to photographers


A Birthday Surprise:Dare-to-Photographers_5450


The Battle of Nap Fighting Lost (Mom and Dad win):



Helping Hands:



A letter from a friend came today:


Spaghetti night:


“You’re My Best Friend, Momma”:



Those photos may not speak quite to you as they do to me since they are from my world. Whenever I look at those images, I can feel those moments again with all 5 senses + the strongest feeling being the joy in my heart. The calm and relief when your child is at rest, the sweet, clean smell of my babies after the bath, the excitement of something new, the snuggles, the messes, ALL OF IT.

Now look at the next photo below. The photo on the left has a date of 1893 on the back. The photo on the right has a date of 1915 on the back.

100 year old photos still in our family’s possession that I look at and feel no connection or personality

I have no idea who these people are other than they are somewhere in my Grandma’s family line. I believe to the core if they were photos with the style above, I’d recognize a personality throughout the photos that tells their story even though they are long gone. I would have characters when I see their faces or names to envision. Not just empty faces.


The photos here range from the 50’s – 60’s all with my Grandma in them. It is undeniable that you can feel a sense of who she was when you look at them. Her laughter, her family, her beauty, and her hard work as your typical stay-at-home wife and mother of 5 boys. My Grandma was a part of my world until 2008, so I have many memories of her. When I see these photos, I see the real her in them. These are the kind of photos I want in my home. If I were looking at a photo of her like the ones above, it would be like looking at the Mona Lisa – trying to figure out who this person is looking back at me.


Somewhere in history, photographers starting taking photos like the ones below. I was one of them. These were all photos I thought I was a badass for in my first year of my photography business. They certainly hold the cute factor, but that’s about where it ends to me. The point is that somewhere, we have started to neglect taking photos that document our lives, our personality, and our connections. How are our generations beyond us going to know our story by looking at a baby in a hot air balloon set up or pink toenails matching moms? These photos are cute, but they don’t tell the story of those in them. I’m not saying don’t take these types photos, I’m simply saying don’t neglect the photos that tell your story.


Once I evolved as a photographer (let’s be honest, once I was burnt out from seeking the next amazing set up), the photos of my real life started to form. I became this happy photographer again fully inspired by the world around me. I don’t print and hang photos on my walls of the cute hot air balloon set up type images. I proudly display the ones that strike a memory with a glance as I walk by at midnight. Or print the photos that will strike a conversation with my children when we pull them out. I want to be the photographer that pulls out a story or personality just like the ones above with my Grandma.

Organic Bloom Frameprinting photos


So, Truth or Dare time…

Dare – make the list.

Truth – Are you neglecting to create (or hire a photographer to create) the photos that tell a story? One more thing: this style is absolutely not limited to children and families. You can document the story of anyone – engagements, seniors and teens, A-N-Y-O-N-E.

Comment below or send me an email. I’m listening and dying to know your thoughts on this post! 

Before you go, don’t miss out on this guide to help you unearth important stories from your own life:

How to Preserve Your Family Stories and Memories in Photographs | Documentary Family Photography

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