The Gilpin Boys – Cornwall Documentary Family Photographer

It’s not often I blog sessions from within my own family, but occasionally something comes up with enough importance that I feel the need to share. In this case, it was a session with my newest nephew and his 3 year old brother. This session resulted in a neat mix of two similar styles – documentary and lifestyle photography – to create something meaningful for their mom.

Documentary photography is a particular passion of mine. It involves using no additional light other than what’s available in a given room; I don’t move anything – whatever is on display is fair game and goes towards telling your story; it’s about capturing real moments in real relationships amongst the perfectly imperfect chaos of everyday life. What it doesn’t involve is sitting and smiling for the camera. The first part of this session was very real: bath time amongst the bananas and the granola bar bowl, with the metal scrub bud in the neighbouring sink. :) I love the contact between Crystal and Matthew as she spreads moisturiser on his feet. I love the expression on his face as he is suddenly able to peer over the edge of the sink. Not included in this particular selection of images are some of the shots with Shane in the background, eating breakfast at the table. This is everyday  life for a mother of two.

Cornwall documentary family photographer - sink bathCornwall documentary family photographer - baby in duck towel

Then we moved upstairs. Crystal really wanted photos of the boys together, so we put them somewhere that would encourage this to happen. This is where the “lifestyle” part comes in – there’s no posing, but the scenario is manufactured based on everyday activities that maybe wouldn’t actually be happening right now on a normal day. They’re candid and they’re honest, but they’re helped along in terms of timing. In this case, we popped both boys on the bed and let Shane snuggle with Matthew before Crystal joined them for a few photos together. When Matthew got hungry somewhere in the middle of all of this, Shane got busy showing me his slippers and jumping on the bed – no planning needed. :) During his playtime, he went from deliriously happy while running laps on the bed, comically grumpy when he couldn’t get his blanket unfolded (check out that face!), to quietly curious when he discovered the pool of light on the floor from the sun shining in the window (LOVED this!). That’s the sort of honesty that gets me.Cornwall documentary family photographer - two brothers on bedCornwall documentary family photographer - boy throwing slipperCornwall documentary family photographer - boy touching sunlight with toeCornwall documentary family photographer - boys on bed with mom

I love the challenge of coercing a newborn to play along with whatever takes place in the studio, but if you want to really see me excited by a challenge, talk to me about a documentary session. :) Being able to reveal relationships to parents the way I see them is such a special part of my job.

(Note: It’s important to know that lifestyle and documentary sessions are best done with infants, not newborns, simply because they can follow shadows (meaning they can interact with you, as the parent) and show glimpses of emerging personality better at 6 weeks than at 6 days old. If, however, you want to document life with a brand new baby, a session documenting the trip home from the hospital or life as you settle in at home during baby’s first 48 hours can be powerful and memorable. If you’d like to see some results from another lifestyle infant session, check out Titan’s session or Fitz’s documentary/lifestyle session; for more on documentary family photography, check out my time with the Wheeler-Doré gang. )


I’m Ang – a Cornwall, Ontario-based photographer with a passion for capturing light and photographing natural moments in life as they happen. My goal is to capture memories that you will cherish once your little ones are not so little anymore. I love meeting new families in their natural environment and getting in amongst the bedlam so that I can document the perfectly imperfect realities of daily life. Please explore more of to see more examples from this Cornwall documentary family photographer.