Cody Farrall Photography storytelling Session guide

family storytelling

This is straight from my website, but it fully sums up why I love storytelling photography:


I love the everyday, the ordinary, the seemingly mundane. I bet you do too, when you really stop to think about it. A little hand tugging at you. The sweet prayers of a toddler. A baby's smile. Laughter at something only your family understands. A lazy Saturday afternoon. Half-eaten meals. A favorite stuffed animal. Chasing fireflies. Grandma's house. Mom's freshly baked cookies. Everything is worth remembering. And that - capturing those little moments that make up your life - is what I do.




what is storytelling photography?

Storytelling photography is real life. It's not posed, it's not always pretty, and your grandma probably won't get it :) I love documenting and recording memories. I've been a scrapbooker for almost 20 years, but didn't become interested in photography until about 5 years ago. At first, I took a lot of photos "the right way" - beautiful light, clean backgrounds, kids smiling and looking at the camera.

But...when it came time to scrapbook those, I didn't have anything to say about them. There were no memories associated with the photos, because they were set up. Still, I kept on pushing through. For about 6 months, I hated photography...well...at least I hated my photography. I felt like I was doing something wrong. Then, in January 2016, I read a breakout by Jessica Thomason called The Art of Authenticity. Something inside me clicked and it was like I was home. A few months later, I took her brand-new class, The Documentary Approach, and I fell in love.

Since then, I'm all about capturing life in a real, authentic, joyful, and sometimes bittersweet way. My photos will never win any awards, but I hope that 50 years from now, someone will look at them and know exactly what life was like on a rural Nebraska corn farm with 3 young kids, 9 chickens, and 5 cats.

I want you to be able to look back at this exact moment in time and remember what it felt like to be there...not just what your family looked like, but your personalities, quirks, and uniqueness.

As for the "storytelling" label - I used to call myself a "documentary" photographer. Documentary is all about showing life exactly as it is. But...I am drawn to prettiness. Light especially. And I want the freedom to move something if I don't like where it is. So I thought about "lifestyle"...but that's not exactly me either (I don't think your house has to be completely clean and perfect, among other things). So, "storytelling" seems to fit me - a mix of documentary and lifestyle.

what can I expect a session to look like?

When I arrive, I'll probably start by asking the kids to show me their rooms (if applicable). All kids like to show off "their space" and it's a great way for them to start interacting with me. Then, we will jump right in and start taking photos!

One hour goes by quickly, so we will have a plan before we start - what do you want me to capture? It's best to have activities planned - supper, baking cookies, playing a game, fire pit and s'mores, bath time for babies, and on and on. Think about what your family does the most. What might change in a year that you won't necessarily remember but that is such a big part of your life right now?

I plan to do very little directing during your session. The point of storytelling is to tell your story: what happens during a normal day in your family?

Storytelling sessions aren't just for families with young kids. I did a session with my grandparents and I loved it so much. I also really really wish I had taken more photos of my other grandparents before they moved to the nursing home. We planned out things in their home that I would want to remember someday: making curry and rice; painting; reading the newspaper; starting a fire, etc. Yes, the activities were planned, but the actions and emotions were so real.

This is also such a great session to do with extended family members! Think holidays, summer picnics, holiday baking, supper out in the field during harvest, and so much more.

before your session

What do I do now? If you haven't already, please ask me to book a session for you! I will then send you an email containing the next steps. We'll also either chat on the phone or by email and talk about the plans for your session. If you have specific ideas on what you want to do, now is the time to let me know! I want you to be thrilled with your photos.

My house isn't clean! Should I clean it? Yes and no. I'm not the best housekeeper, so I'm used to shooting around clutter, but you'll probably be happier with your photos if your kids' dirty underwear isn't in them ;) Also keep an eye out for things that will stand out in photos, but aren't normally in that spot (think large colored cups).

I'm sure my kids will act up at some point during the session. What if they just don't cooperate? Yay! I actually like capturing a little bit of drama. Just go about what you would normally do, although we can redirect them to a different activity. Also, I do strive to capture every family in a happy way - I always look for the good in any situation!

What should we wear? Whatever you feel comfortable in! Seriously. If you would normally wear a dress while baking cookies, do it. But if you're a jeans and t-shirt kind of family, wear that. A couple guidelines though - bright, neon colors don't photograph well; large cartoon characters can be distracting (but if your kid just wants to wear his favorite Paw Patrol shirt, let him!); all black can be slimming, but it can also get lost in the shadows and you may look like a floating head ;)

I'm not really sure I want a documentary session. Can you just do portraits? Yes! Please check out my family portrait guide.

It's time to get to know you! After you have paid your deposit and signed the contract, I will send you a questionnaire to fill out. The more I know about your family, the more your photos will look like your family. I know some questions may seem silly, but if I know what's important to you, I will have a better understanding of what to look for!

after the session

When will my images be ready? And how do I get them? My turn-around time is 2-3 weeks in the slower months, 3-4 weeks in the fall. Once the best images are edited, I will upload them to an online gallery. From there, you can share them, download them to your computer, and order prints.

If you would like to order physical products such as prints or albums, you can do that right through your gallery! I strongly encourage you to consider ordering a photo album for your documentary session - the photos will tell a story and it will become a much-loved keepsake!

What will the photos look like? Will they be color or black and white? Remember, most of the session won't be your fancy, hang-on-the-wall portraits. My goal is to tell a story of your life, which is why a photo book is so important! I know that you will love looking through it and reliving this moment in your life.

I hand-edit every photo and decide whether it looks best in color or black and white. I love both equally and some photos just need to be one or the other.

Soon after the session, I will post a "sneak peek" on Facebook. Please feel free to share! Also, my best business comes from word of mouth, so tag me in any photos that you post on Facebook!

final thoughts

Thank you for choosing Cody Farrall Photography to capture your life! I can't wait to spend time with your family!

"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do." -Andy Warhol
Created By
Cody Farrall

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