Go deeper than traditional portraits, documentary family photography, lifestyle, storytelling, or any other label.
Take the Fearless and Framed® Dare and I guarantee you’ll have an ah-ha! moment in how you document stories for yourself or clients. Let’s get back to the ROOT of why we record stories with purpose.
This is part of a document protected by a registered US copyright: the Real is the New Perfect Photo Challenge. Do not copy or use this content without clicking here to purchase the gorgeous PDF (inside Intentional Documentary®) to use with your clients.
1. Grab a pen and paper and list of three of your favorite people.
i.e. your mom or dad, your sister or brother, your favorite aunt, your bestie, your spouse, your grandma, your son or daughter, your mentor or coach, the little old lady neighbor who watched the neighborhood growing up, the cousin you only got to see a few times a year, even your pet.
2. Next to each person, list three memories of time shared with them.
These can be from the distant past or present-day memories-in-the-making.
3. Then, add two details that come to mind when you think of each person.
Think details that represent the vivid mental image in your mind of THEM.
This doesn’t have to be done in 5 minutes; dig deep and marinate in your memory bank. The memories that first come to mind are often bigger, like an incredible trip or a milestone event. For this exercise, think deeper. Think of those smaller experiences, senses, emotions, and personality traits.
My husband, David:
Memories: Our 3 week adventure across the country; when he proposed to me on top of the Ambassador bridge at the Canada/U.S. international line (true story); when we did our Tim Horton’s drive-thru breakfast dates + dreamed of our future pre-baby era.
Details: his sexy jawline and his love for his garage.
Memories: Back-to-school shopping and eating Hot Stix at the mall food court; driving up north every summer to the family cabin jamming to Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey; our girls’ weekend trips when dad was hunting
Details: She’s often in her Mickey Mouse jacket with a bottle of Mountain Dew in tow
Memories: The 3-4 day sleepovers when she taught me to crochet; making iced tea; painting shirts with fabric paint; and our epic tea party with her fine china.
Details: Her love for writing poems & journaling.
Memories: He always greets people with a big, open-mouthed kiss; the endless nights of putting him back to bed after a bottle and rubbing his back til he fell back to sleep; how he would turn our kitchen into a lake after his sink baths.
Details: his curls and his favorite toy, monster trucks.
Memories: When she greets me in the mornings with, “Momma, the sky’s awake, so I’m awake, so we have to play” (yes, Frozen fever over here); cooking or baking with me in the kitchen on her stool; doing on our mom-Kendall dates each month, like to dinner and the Pinkalicous play.
Details: Those eyes that WOW everyone and the way she curls up on my lap.
Now that you have your list, how do you feel when you look at the specifics? Gratitude? Joy? Nostalgia? You may be thinking, “I wish I could go back in time,” or “I hope this never ends.”
These details have made your relationships what they are today. Now let’s push the envelope.
4. Look through your list and circle the items you’ve documented.
Most people find that they have very few photos / documentations of their list items. Pretty crazy considering the list is composed of your most valued memories, right?!
Life is full of small details that shape us + our relationships. Too often, we don’t even recognize ’em while knee-deep in life… let alone document them. Then, we’re in the future (or at a funeral) and wish so badly to re-connect to those details. Intentional Documentary® is a way to SEE & celebrate your stories before they’re over.
Today, I dare you to let go of the influence you’ve picked up from other documentarians + photographers and allow your list to shape your vision. Try documenting from this place—from memory—and see what happens.
Not a journal. The only Playbook on the market to help you fully manage the stories of your life. Be mind-blown with what your stories can do!
The 10-part workflow to get access to what matters most and to help clients show up relaxed and natural as you record their story in pictures or film.
If you liked the exercise on this page, you'll love this comprehensive (and free!) guide to making your most meaningful photos.