documentary 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.
in-home family of four-21.jpg

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

Sasha • Maryland lifestyle newborn photographer

Juliette Fradin photography is a storytelling photographer based in Hyattsville, Maryland and serves Washington, DC + MD + VA and NJ + NY. Juliette photographs families, maternity sessions, newborns and a few weddings a year. Her style is far from standard posing and cheesy smiles but she rather captures a feeling, an emotion, a connection. Her clients demand something different, something honest and true to real life. 

I would love to chat with you about your custom lifestyle or documentary session. Please feel free to look around the site. All pricing can be found under Pricing

This little girl was just 2 weeks old at the time of the photoshoot and her parents happily welcomed her into their life after months of trying. She is now their little princess and they are very touching by the way they carefully take care of her. It reminded me of the birth of my daughter: the worries as new parents, the changes in what used to be your normal life, in my body... 

One week after the session, the mom had an health emergency and had to stop breastfeeding cold turkey. Everyone is doing fine now but I am so so glad I caught these moments for them. You never know what life will throw at you. Embrace the NOW. 


Juliette Fradin uses a documentary approach for photographing families so they can just *be* in the moment 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. 
 Let's stay in touch. Contact her for more information.

Introducing "Real Life Sessions" • Documentary photography in Maryland and New Jersey

family photography

I think the hardest thing about being a photographer is to find your own voice and style. This is something very intimate as your personality shapes what you are drawn to. I knew from the beginning I wanted to photograph families so I started doing what everybody else was doing: picking a location, dressing up my clients, buying props, suggesting activities, bringing a blanket... And even though it was pleasant, my heart was not into it and I wanted more. Something was missing. I wanted connection and raw moments and found they were easier when I WAS NOT IN THE WAY. I had to let go of the control I had on my clients in order to photograph them as truly as possible. 

documentary photographer

I want to capture what your life is really like. Down the road, I think that a series of pictures that tell YOUR unique story with YOUR perfectly imperfect life is far more engaging than a posed portrait where you may look like any other family. It won't bring up the same memories. The ability to freeze time on a particular day will transport you back to that year and show your unique personalities and lifestyle that are evolving throughout time. The walk to your neighborhood playground might seem ordinary today but will become a treasured memory in a while.  

I am now offering longer sessions to do just that: document the big and tiny moments that cannot happen in a 1-hour session. I am introducing "Real Life Session" that will last 4 to 5 hours (half day) or 10 to 12 hours (full day) from breakfast to bedtime stories. Real life or "Day in the Life" sessions are a new genre that is quickly breaking through and becoming the new rage in the photography world. You may also have heard of it as "Family photojournalism" or "Documentary photography".  

day in the life session new jersey

My approach of capturing your family during a Real Life session at home is far from poses, props and coordinated outfits. I won't tell you to stand closer to the light or to act again for the camera. It's pretty much the opposite: I let go of control over outfits, activities, timing... all you have to do is live your normal life and be yourself as much as possible. I try not to change your environment in any way: my job is to make the experience as natural as possible, as if we were hanging out together except I am taking pictures along the way. You might certainly catch me laughing about the silliness of the situation or I might observe the activity from afar. The kids don't have to sit still and smile or behave for the camera but rather the opposite. I don't have any expectation except a meltdown at some point that I will totally embrace. I am part of your life for a few hours to document it and it might includes meeting with your kid's favorite plush toy, sharing a cup of coffee at breakfast, or sliding at the park. I am shooting 70% of the time and interacting with you the other 30%. 

Family Documentary photography New Jersey

Home has a special meaning for me who is living in a foreign country. Eight years ago, when I moved to the US from France I had a new environment to discover. Knowing nobody except my beloved husband, I had to built my nest from scratch, far from family and friends. Home became a refuge, a safe place where I could go back and be myself. I found comfort in the rooms I made my own with our memorabilia and artifacts from here and there. Then, 2 kids later, home became the space where the most joyful and intimate moments happened, along with a few tears and pouting faces (and maybe slamming doors - let's be realistic). That experience has played an important role in the way I approach photographing families. I want the location to be a subtle element in and of itself, almost like a family member, and a place where my clients feel safe and comfortable. It helps to relax, you don't have to be stressed about time, travels or the kids misbehaving... I am here for you, to keep track of your daily rituals and the rhythm of your life at home so you can remember it to its fullest.

Real life sessions

So just relax, enjoy, love your family and let me capture just that. You will get my own perspective on your family life with the complete gamut of emotions. They will reflect you and only you: no 2 families are alike. I am a sucker for snuggles, tantrums, warnings, and picking noses! Parents have the hardest yet most rewarding job in the world but I pay special attention to the moms who are often missing from the pictures as they are often the ones behind the camera. But they deserve better than the occasional phone selfies. Anyhow, family life is certainly not easy and I feel fortunate I can show my clients through beautiful photographs how much love there is in their home.

Nothing better than someone else talking about her experience so here are Jessica's words (that made me blush): "When I finally saw the pictures I was in LOVE! Juliette captured beautiful pictures of my family doing all of the things that we normally do, and as a mom, having pictures of myself with my family was such a gift: cooking with my eldest, nursing my youngest, my husband and I together talking in the kitchen getting dinner ready (those are probably the first professional pictures taken of just the two of us since our wedding!), playing at the playground. We had pictures that made us (my husband and I) get all mushy and talk about needing another baby and then later literally laugh out loud - when we say DITL we mean it - 3 year olds do pick their nose! I think this entire concept is just amazing and could only really come from a fellow mom and wife." Jessica, mom to 2 boys, 2 corgis and 2 cats.


I am really excited to start this new project that is really close to my heart and that I worked a lot for in the past few months. I feel like it is a normal evolution of the work I have been doing and that it respects who I am. I cannot wait to see some more families at home through my lens. And to keep the ball rolling I offer special discounts for the first 3 clients who book a "real life session" half or full day. 


$1100 instead of $1600*

What's included?

  • a 4 to 5-hour session at home (from breakfast to lunch or afternoon to bedtime),
  • immediate family members,
  • hand-edited images (around 80 images) with a print release,
  • all high resolution files with immediate download through an online gallery,
  • all 4x6 prints.
family photography Maryland


$2200 instead of $3000*

What's included?

  • a 10 to 12-hour session at home (from breakfast to bedtime stories),
  • immediate family members,
  • hand-edited images (around 200 images) with a print release,
  • all high resolution files with immediate download through an online gallery,
  • all 4x6 prints,
  • 11x8" hard-cover photo book with a selection of the best images. 


*Offer available for the first 3 clients who book a session and sign a model release. I will take only 1 Real Life session per month.

Prints and products (photo-albums, bamboo mounted prints, frames) can be purchased directly from the à la carte menu.
DITL session New Jersey

Around the 'hood with Charlie • Virginia Family Photographer

Katie contacted me to photograph her family: Charlie, her dog, Captain the newly arrived cat and her partner Andy. Almost in that order :) We had fun at home and Charlie showed us some tricks then we went outside for a lovely walk around their neighborhood like they do every day. It was totally laid-back and I loved hanging out with them. This dog has such a great personality. 

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.