Storytelling photography

Fusion Video by Juliette fradin, lifestyle family photographer in Maryland

My goal for the forthcoming months is to add some little video clips to slideshows. There is something about moving images that are priceless: the way a baby wiggles when he learns to walk, little gestures of love or the sound of the little voices.  

Your job Stay-home mum.

Hometown Hyattsville, MD.

Your perfect Sunday looks like... Warm, sunny, and spent outside with my little family at home in our garden (in an ideal world there would be no bugs and an icy cocktail or two).

Favorite place The beaches in QLD Australia.

How many time did you move as a family? We've been in Hyattsville as a family since Atlas was one.

Destination you dream of traveling to? Home to Australia to see my family. And anywhere tropical and beachy.

Best thing to do with children? Follow their lead and play - being outside getting messy in the mud kitchen, making art together, snuggling up and reading, small world and imaginary play etc. If I'm with my kids then it's the very best thing.

Best thing to do without children? Does that happen? Ha. Sleep! ;)

Name of your kid(s) and age? Atlas - 5, Pilot - 1

Atlas: favorite thing about school? Playing with Jo outside at school making paint out of charcoal, water, and redbuds. And drama inside.

Atlas: What do you want to be when you grow up? A zookeeper looking after the seals. Or maybe a husky driver. I don’t know.....

Atlas: What superpower would you like to have? Speed.

Atlas: Your idea for a fun family trip? To Canada to go husky sledding.

Atlas: What is the best thing about your mom? your dad? My mum is cute and snuggly. My dad loves me a lot. My mum and dad play with me.

Atlas: Favorite color? Why? Red - I just do.
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I am a documentary family photographer. I love to photograph families at home, the epicenter of family life, where childhood memories are formed. I will capture your story when you are fearlessly you: when you do the things you love to do in the places you love to be. I catch glimpses of your family's personality when you are in the moment enjoying the simple fact of being together.

I love to document the love (and tears) that goes into family life, or during a sweet reunion, or when you are managing your small business. My style is far from standard posing and cheesy smiles. Instead I capture a feeling, an emotion, a connection. My clients demand something different, something honest and true to real life. Let's get in touch. 

Home, a sense of belonging • storytelling family session in Princeton, NJ

I recently realized that a good chunk of my clients (maybe 80%?) are foreigners. They come from Brazil, Germany, France, Australia... or they have traveled the world, or lived in a different country, another culture. This always leads to interesting conversations about raising bilingual kids, traveling back to your native country or how to raise kids in a different culture.

If you are in that situation (well first hola, bonjour, guten tag, ciao, Asalaam alaikum, ni hau...) I highly recommend reading the book "Third Culture Kid (TCK), growing up among worlds" that explains the challenges of kids who live parts in their parents' culture like at home or through the school, and parts in the culture in which they are living. They develop a third culture that is a mix of everything but they make it their own. They have to deal with specific challenges like identity and how to cope with grief. The worst question you could ask to a TCK is: Where are you from? 

The concept now broadens to include cross-cultural situations like ethnic minority parents, immigrant parents, mixed race parents, parents who move often from one region of the U.S. to another...  This is probably one of the reasons why I shoot what I shoot. After 10 years in the U.S., home is everywhere and nowhere : I feel like a foreigner when I wander the streets of Paris and I will never perfectly fit in America. But I need a sense of belonging and reassurance that HOME provides. Your house is an intimate place where LIFE happens. Home is the epicenter of family life as I like to say. 

This family is no exception as the mom is American but dad is German and they navigate between families here in the States and across the pond in Europe. We bonded over "vacationing for weeks at your in-laws".... because seriously... who is looking forward to that? :) As they say, you are happy when you arrive and happy when you leave! 

This is a favorite topic of mine so share your thoughts, readings and tips anytime. I'm all ears. 

You can see another in-home family session here  (with twin boys!).

I am a documentary family photographer. I love to photograph families at home, the epicenter of family life, where childhood memories are formed. I will capture your story when you are fearlessly you: when you do the things you love to do in the places you love to be. I catch glimpses of your family's personality when you are in the moment enjoying the simple fact of being together.

I love to document the love (and tears) that goes into family life, or during a sweet reunion, or when you are managing your small business. My style is far from standard posing and cheesy smiles. Instead I capture a feeling, an emotion, a connection. My clients demand something different, something honest and true to real life. Let's get in touch. 

What photography style to choose for my family pictures? • Maryland family photographer Juliette Fradin

If you have ever hired a photographer in the past (or tried to), let's be honest: it is tough work! There are plenty of photographers ready to press that shutter and freeze little Johnny's smirk but before picking one, you need to know what you WANT and which style is the best fit (and that can change from one time to another). Because it is a time-consuming process, you need to think about what is it you are looking for before finding the right one for your family.

Juliette fradin documentary photographer in Maryland
  • TRADITIONAL, CLASSIC PHOTOGRAPHY. Images that transcend generations

It's like in the old days where having your picture taken was a little event in itself (it always is in my opinion!). Due to camera technology, you had to stay still and pose in front of the photographer, generally in a studio setting. The approach today is still formal except more modern (but your children will still laugh at you in a few years no matter what). You will still get the backdrops, the props, the artificial lights, everybody looking at the camera. Usually everybody wears their best outfit to look fancy (bowtie anyone?) or even matching clothes (but that seems to be fading away, thank God).
The editing is classic, the goal is to produce timeless photographs that will eventually end up in a photo album with a large emphasis on the portraits. The focus is on the people.
There are photographers who rock this style like Sandra Coan (in Seattle), known for her film sessions of newborns in her studio (film is NOT dead!!), or Taura Horn in Nebraska.

Something I am totally obsessed about right now is Tintype photography. It is described as “the polaroid of the 19th century,” where your photo ends up on a piece of metal. If you are curious, you can check Emily White based in Richmond, VA. I might have our family portrait taken this summer in France as I know someone near my hometown! Now, will my 3 year old stay still for 10 seconds?....

What turns a traditional photographer on? Controlling light, style and posing people; editing images (fine art); people who can follow directions; glamorous shots.

Pros: These are great shots to show HOW everybody looked at a certain time. They are beautiful photographs to have when well executed. There is definitely a timeless feel with a touch of melancholy. No worry about weather conditions. Less noise, less distractions.

Cons: This type of photography is very consistent = not much surprise. Your portraits will look similar to the ones in the photographer's portfolio in terms of posing, light... It is not meant for candid moments or tickle fights. You might need to travel some distance to the studio.

For who? Traditional photography is for you if you need something classic that will capture a milestone in your family's life (wedding, newborn, 1st year). Best enjoyed in a frame on your wall.

Keywords: fine art, posed, controlled, milestone, conventional, traditional, analog, minimalist, film, studio, artificial light.


Juliette fradinnewborn photographer in Maryland
  • LIFESTYLE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY. The ideal version of yourself.

Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard about Lifestyle photography. This has become a potpourri for many things but one sure thing is that it stands for unposed, candid and relaxed – but in appearance only. Don't be fooled by the pretty imagery of happy people on their bed; it all happens under the photographer's directions and styling. There is a natural feel in the images even though it is staged, styled, set up and directed :) Usually you will stand in beautiful light and probably do something you don't typically do (like reading stories on your bed with the whole fam all dressed up and smiling). The photos can be taken in a studio that mimics a cozy interior, with artificial or natural light, or at your home, or outside in a park. The session lasts around 1-2 hours.

Lifestyle photography is nice if you want a better-than-usual self. You will pay attention to the décor and the way the whole family is dressed up. The photographer will direct you a lot with prompts, make silly jokes to make the kids laugh and the parents relax. Best enjoyed in a series of frames, in a photo-album.

What turns a lifestyle photographer on? Beautiful light, great styling & makeup, a studio setting or a pretty photo location, client who can follow some directions and be natural in front of the lens.

Pros: The subjects, the environment and the situation are under control. It is nice if you want the best version of yourself where you feel at your best. Environment is semi-controlled.

Cons: The surrounding is generally meaningless. Even if it is shot at home, you end up in the room with the best available light. It mimics the everyday. Weather dependent. Shooting time might not coincide with family's rhythm (naps, feedings) to catch the better light. Around DC, you need permits to shoot at many locations.

For who? Lifestyle photography is for you if you would like photos where your family looks happy and pretty. It is not your normal self but the ideal version (your pinterest-y version!!). Sometimes we need just that to remember it's not always sound and fury.

Keywords: candid , lifestyle, natural, styled, controlled, studio, on-location, artificial light, natural light.

Juliette fradin newborn photographer in DC


  • STORYTELLING FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY. Do the things you love to do, at the location you love to be.

The photographer is here to narrate a family story, a piece of life, with a series of photographs. Usually, you will fill in a questionnaire so the photographer knows about your family and what you like to do together. Then you will agree on an activity like going to the farmers market, a walk in your neighborhood, a board game or baking at home, maybe putting the sprinklers on or improvising a little dance party. The “story” doesn't need to be on a very special day but rather an everyday moment, almost insignificant. A storytelling photographer will look for emotions during the photoshoot itself and emotions that impact the viewer. Usually, the photographer won't tidy up around the subjects to keep the scene as true (close?) to reality as possible. Same with clothing: you come as you are (superhero cape? Bring it on!). People are at home or somewhere familiar (a brunch place, neighborhood playground...) and definitely choose where to sit, play, eat... The surrounding is part of the story; a location dear to their heart. It is a different feeling than lifestyle sessions because it is personal, emotive and meaningful to the family. It doesn't look like your friends' photos: this is YOUR story.
The photoshoot might be slightly directed; some photographers might ask you to stay where you are or to do that funny thing again but overall it is relaxed and laid-back. It usually lasts for 2 hours.

The photos are presented in a sequence that tell the story of the moment shared together. Best enjoyed in a photo book, in prints or in a series of frames that will remind you of that perfect moment with your loved ones.

What turns a storytelling photographer on? A family who is able to follow little prompts but is mainly doing “their thing” with or without a camera; meaningful location; connection; raw emotions.

Pros: True to life. Relaxed and laid-back. No need to smile at the camera or “act” for the camera. Your house doesn't need to be spotless or look like a magazine. The photographer is here for YOU. Easy with small children. And husbands.

Cons: You need to be comfortable with the person you hire. Read bios, check social media, scan her portfolio and see if you could be friends – at least for a few hours.

For who? For families who want a time capsule of their ordinary to slow down time. You want to remember the places, the feelings, hear the laughters and even the kids bickering at the back of the car. You embrace the flaws and spontaneity of life with kids.

Keywords: storytelling photography, photo essay, photo story, candid, organic.

Juliette fradin documentary photographer in Maryland
  • DOCUMENTARY FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY/ PHOTOJOURNALISTIC APPROACH. Be fearlessly you. Or when photography is not about the photographer but the subjects.

Documentary photography is all the rage right now - at least among the photography community – but if you haven't heard about it yet, you definitely will. Documentary family photography is about capturing organic moments of a family in their natural habitat (usually at home*), during their current stage of life. The family is completely spontaneous, there are no posing, props or manipulation of the settings. The session takes place in and around the family's home or at places with meaning to them. Your memorabilia on your shelves will trigger souvenirs for your grown-up kids.

It is based on reality hence no directions from the photographer to keep it as close to real life as possible. The interactions, the way you handle meltdowns, the eating habits, the clothes you wear, the cup you drink from... are what makes you unique. No two families are alike. The goal is to remember a piece of your life as it is, to spark conversations with the kids and, later, show grandkids! Think of it like a normal day spent with your family, doing the things you normally do except there is someone tagging along taking pictures. He/she won't stalk you but be part of your daily activities. You can even check your emails (hello dad!) and have a quiet time on your own. You wear the clothes you normally wear and go about your day as usual: driving to dance practice with the 5 year old, fixing lunch, putting baby down for his nap, breastfeeding, swinging at the park, having a snack with lemonade, kids running naked in the backyard...

A documentary photographer requires a keen eye and needs to be able to shoot in all types of light, to look for creative composition, to “work” a scene to get the best image, and to let it go (no prompts). The session is all about the family being photographed and captures all the feeling and emotions throughout a day (happy, sad, mad, angry, teary, tired, sleepy, joyful, creative, quiet, you name it). You don't need a particular milestone or special reason.

Sessions usually last half a day (at least 4 hours) and up to a full day. Or even several days if you are on vacation. It is a great opportunity to slow down, and be with your family. Time is the essence here so documentary sessions like minis cannot be done in 20-30 minutes (in my opinion!!).

What turns a documentary photographer on? Personal stories, tantrums, a family at home*, mess, life with kids, an ordinary day, beautiful mundane, pure emotions, the stories behind the image.
*Because a session happens at home it doesn't mean it is a documentary session.

Pros: No travels. The surroundings are meaningful. No posing. Don't have to fake anything. No extensive planning needed. Kids don't have to behave. You have time. You will get the whole gamut of emotions from bliss to tears and from sunrise to sunset (almost!).

Cons: Minimal emphasis on posed portraits, finding the “right” photographer and being comfortable, a session takes time.

For Who? For families who feel awkward when posing and cheese-smiling. It is perfect if you embrace the flaws and want an honest record of this stage in your life. After you have warmed up, you won't be self-conscious anymore. Daily life with kids will kick in anyway.

keywords: family photojournalism, documentary, environmental portraits, real moments, in-home photography.

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In a nutshell, the principal difference between all of these categories is the amount of photographer's directions and control over the photoshoot. The traditional photographer will want to control as much as possible whereas the family documentary photographer will let it go. I think there are only a few photographers with a real documentary approach. However, all the categories are porous and sometimes frontiers are blurry: lifestyle photographers might label themselves doing documentary work, etc. Storytelling and documentary genres are pretty close though.

Which one is better? There is no better or worse. It all depends on your family, the stage in your life, what you want to record visually, the goal and what moves you. Sometimes a mini photoshoot will do the trick, sometimes longer sessions are what you want to embrace your family's personality and more complex situations. I have families that return every year or who want a full year documented. Of course budget is something to take into consideration, too. I am partial to the subject but having a visual record of your family growing is important. Aren't pictures the first thing people grab when a house is on fire? This is your legacy for future generations. And to remind you how much LOVE there is under your roof.

I am in you shoes!
This summer we will celebrate 10 years of living abroad and I am hiring a documentary photographer to capture us in France at my mother's for a whole day!! I am so happy someone else is doing that for me and that I will appear in the pictures with my husband and my kids. I am SO looking forward to it.

Now tell me what is the number 1 thing that keeps you from hiring a photographer (besides money)?

Capturing the everyday is not everyone's cup of tea but if you think it's the right fit for you and still have some questions, shoot me an email. I might be able to help.

Juliette fradin documentary photographer in Maryland

Bonjour, my name is Juliette and I am a documentary family photographer. I love to photograph families at home, the epicenter of family life, where childhood memories are formed. I will capture your story when you are fearlessly you: when you do the things you love to do in the places you love to be. I catch glimpses of your family's personality when you are in the moment enjoying the simple fact of being together.

I love to document the love (and tears) that goes into family life, or during a sweet reunion, or when you are managing your small business. My style is far from standard posing and cheesy smiles. Instead I capture a feeling, an emotion, a connection. My clients demand something different, something honest and true to real life. Let's do this. 

Beautiful ordinary rainy day at home• Princeton, NJ in-home family photographer

 So you think your house is too dark? Or not "bright and airy"? We took these photos on a very rainy Sunday afternoon in November. Sure we ended up in the attic but the kids had fun jumping from one bed to another. And it was the perfect moment to cuddle on the bed.
Home is the epicenter of family life. 

These photos were taken during an in-home mini-session. Skip the tantrums and let me come to your house so you don't have to drag all the kids into the car.

Juliette Fradin uses a documentary approach for photographing families so they can just slow down and enjoy the simple moment of being together. If you would like to see more of her recent family photography, head over to her Instagram account. She loves to document the love (and tears) that go into family life, managing a small business or a sweet reunion. Subscribe to my newsletter, I would love to have you there. xx

2015 in review - part 2 • Lifestyle family photographer in Maryland

Here is part 2 of this BEST OF 2015 to share some of my best moments with clients and personal ones too. No particular order. Just the chaos of life as it happens :)

*Size matters*
click on the images to see them larger. Your eyes will thank you.

I am now booking sessions for 2016. Remember your family through pictures.
You'll be happy you did.

Juliette Fradin photography specializes in modern family photography in Maryland, Washington DC and surroundings areas.

2015 in review - part 1 • Maryland Family photography

I decided to do this BEST OF 2015 to share some of the best moments I had with clients and also some more personal shots. I am going to post all January long so stay tuned! There is no particular order nor theme as i wanted to get it done! So pardon the mess :)

You will find some Storytelling family sessions shot mostly at home with kids or babies, Fresh 48 sessions at hospitals, a backyard wedding, some of our vacation trips to Florida, Smith mountain Lake, VA, and my family daily life with my kids and husband. 
And if you don't see yourself yet, wait for next week.

*Size matters*
click on the images to see them larger. Your eyes will thank you.

Would you like a photoshoot of your family to document your days? I'll be happy to do so for you.
And no worries about travels, I'll come to you!

Juliette Fradin Photography specializes in Storytelling family photography in Maryland, Washington, DC and surroundings. 

Newborn family session • Maryland family photography

This is already the second time I have the chance to photograph Florence and her family. We did her maternity session last August at home when her daughter turned 1! Yes, you read me well, she has now her hands full with 2 babies really close apart. I cannot imagine the patience it needs not to mention the lack of sleep! I am glad my son is now over a year and that this is behind us. 

The sessions with them are always fun and energetic with a little bit of an adventure: when she booked her session Florence asked if I would be interested in taking their pictures first at their home but then at the Alpaca farm they love to go to.
A newborn session at the farm? with Alpacas?

And at the end of our session, they took me to a nearby cheese farm where Florence worked part time. 
And it was heaven. 

PS: And check that wall from Anthropologie in the nursery!!!!! :)))

In-home family session • Bethesda storytelling photography

This session is exactly the kind of documentary-style shoot that I love to do: Sarah invited me to spend a lovely morning with her family to capture these early years of childhood. Since her first daughter was born she managed to have family pictures taken once a year and indeed there were some beautiful frames everywhere in the house.

She expressively hired me to document: "those stolen moments - smiles, laughs, cuddles between sisters. I want to remember their expressions and their precious little bodies. I want to capture the free spirit of a 3 year old and the deliciousness of a 5 month old". You can imagine this made my heart sing right away!!!! This is the exact things I try to create for my clients. She couldn't have said it any better.

Love to you all Sarah,

I would love to take some beautiful photos of your family in your natural habitat! Let's make it happen. And I promise you will love to see your spouse having fun with the kids in pictures. And you will love having memories of you and your kids too. Don't hide behind the camera moms. You are largely part of the story and deserve to be in front of the lens.

in-home family session • Alexandria, VA storytelling photography

We decided to do this session at home as those former clients wanted something intimate that reflect their life with their 2 kids. I am so happy we took those photos and that we kept memory of the tiny details that make LIFE. It's like a photo diary telling their story of that particular moment in their life: little brother wrestling with big sister on the front yard, spending time in the playroom reading some favorite books, lounging on that über-loved big monster pillow… This will pass eventually as kids gets older. But they will have something to hold on to. 

I would love to tell you story in pictures. Contact me to make this happen.