how I became a charlotte Documentary family photographer

Truth time... When I first started dabbling in photography for clients I started out with what I thought I wanted to be, which was a children's photographer who had ALL the props, all the outfits, and only shot at the most "perfect" golden hours filled with magical light. Think big dramatic dresses, carousel horses and fairy wings. I did all those things. I went to a photographer's meetup that was led by a photographer who has mastered that art. She had all these elaborate sets and children in amazing costumes, I drove 2 hours to get there, photographed my heart out amongst other photographers doing the same thing, drove the 2 hours home and felt nothing. I didn't enjoy myself the way I thought I would. I barely edited any of those photos when I got home. Those photos still sit on my hard drive for years now just waiting to be edited. I can't bring myself to do it. My joy wasn't there.

I moved on to photographing families the only way I knew how and that was how I had my families photos taken, at parks, at fields, at peach blossoms, somewhere outside during "ideal times" of light. I would pose the families, prompt them to act certain ways, hoping that the kiddos would behave the way their parents wanted them to, hoping their parents would calm down so their smiles were more genuine and less stressed, seeing their eyes looking back at me through my lens in hopes that I got "at least one good shot". I would end the sessions with some feeling of accomplishment, more than I had with the props, but it still didn't feel like I was creating with purpose, it felt like "work" work and that I didn't give my full service to my clients, work I knew I could do if they could only truly see it and feel it. I was giving them what they thought they wanted, what I thought I "should" do, and what has become expected of family photo sessions.

For so long I would share photos of my children and people would say they want "those kinds of photos". Those kinds of photos were of my kiddos being themselves, dirty, popsicle eating gremlins of magic, without props, without me telling them what to do, simply being their ordinary magical selves. Some old photos that come to mind from 2017 are these ones:

I wanted to gift "these kinds" of photos to my clients. I knew how I felt when I caught this magic on my camera, how I'd want to print those photos right away and share them with family and friends. I wanted my clients to feel the same way, I wanted to capture how they felt, how their home felt, the realness that only your family has. Pinterest and Instagram are great for inspiration, but there is nothing more inspiring than your family story.

I spent so much time photographing my children, practicing, and scouring the inter-webs in search of what would get me to that next level of photography. I found a mentor out in Colorado, I studied under her, listened to every piece of advice she would give me. I practiced, practiced some more and found myself, found my clients.

Is it a completely vulnerable experience to allow me into your home and photograph you? Definitely. I cherish the moments I spend with you because not only do I feel fulfilled when I leave your home and get excited to sit at my computer for hours, figuring out the way I will tell your story through my editing, but I also can tell the difference when I leave your home, how good you felt having real connections with your family, seeing the authentic smiles on your partners and children's faces.

childrens toys on a shelf
childrens toys on a shelf
Child's bedtime routine
childrens wood blocks in a basket
twin girls sit at a table doing a puzzle
twin girls sit at a table doing a puzzle
a mother holds her daughter and smiles, both wearing yellow shirts

We were so fortunate to have Sabrina come to our home for a family photo session this spring. She put all of us so at ease, and she did an amazing job capturing our whole family with the most, beautiful, authentic, true-to-life photos we've ever had! I love her style and the way she picked out small moments and objects to tell our story. Sabrina seriously has a gift! I feel like we won the lottery with these pictures.

- Scott
Charlotte family enjoying their home during a documentary family photo session
a young girl sits on her fathers lap in a beautiful bedroom
a young girl sits on her mothers lap in a beautiful bedroom
a mother, father, and their twin girls sit in the girls bedroom together
dad tickles daughter in Charlotte family home
dad carries daughter into a bedroom while sister sits on moms lap reading a book
mother and daughter looking down at a book
little girl kisses her sister's cheek
little girl lays on bed upside down smiling at the camera with a polka dot shirt on
mom lifts daughter into the air with her legs
family cuddles on a bed together
mom and baby sit on bed together while baby sticks out tongue

The entire session was wonderful. So much ease, laughter, joy and flexibility. I am not exaggerating when I say every photo we received is a favorite for different reasons. Sabrina was able to capture so many details and moments that we didn't realize during the session because the session was so easy and natural. It truly shocked me how the photos captured the very essence of the mood, personality and feeling of what was going on at that moment. I want to frame every photo.

- Katie
little girl twirls around in a tulle skirt
baby goes to feed mom with a banana
family colors together in their Charlotte home
little girl reaches for crayons
family colors together at a table in their Charlotte home
little girl twirls in a tulle skirt in her living room while her twin sister watches
little girl lays across her couch with pillow over her face
baby drinks from sippy cup in living room
little girl twirls in tulle skirt
little girl frowns on the couch
mom wipes baby noses with shirt
Charlotte family sits on couch and smiles at camera