Best Family Photos of 2018 | Documentary Family Photography | Bath Somerset


2018 has been a huge year for me photography wise. It was my first year in business and I am so blessed at how many wonderful, beautiful and joyful families I have had the pleasure of meeting this year.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is ‘what is documentary family photography’?

To put it simply, documentary family photography is me capturing or ‘documenting’ your REAL LIFE. With no posing, no scripted activities and no direction from me. Just you and your family going about your every day as you normally would. So that real and spontaneous moments, emotions and feelings can appear naturally (which can make for some killer candid images and portraits!).

Have you ever seen a candid photo someone has snapped of you without you realising? And when you see it you love how you look, you love how relaxed you look, a natural, real smile, or a wistful far away dreamy look? Having a photo shoot can be nerve wracking, (as someone who also finds posing in front of a camera very awkward, I get it) which is why documentary style photo shoots are perfect for those people who hate having their picture taken! You don’t have to do anything except be yourself and try and forget I am there!

I choose this wonderfully free and creative style of photography because I prefer to photograph people and moments without directing anyone. I want to capture real moments as they are really happening in front of me, because I believe those images tell a richer story of you and your family. They are a snapshot of a moment in time, that may seem insignificant and would otherwise be forgotten, but in years to come are so so precious.

Who told us that our normal, domestic life is boring or not photo worthy? Why do we think we have to be dressed up and doing something really fun or exciting or interesting for it to be documented? Real life is so much more colourful, so beautiful, always hilariously funny and incredibly photo worthy.

Navigating my way through these shoots as the photographer is fascinating. I love the uncharted waters we are all in, the spontaneity and knowing that we will be creating a little bit of art of a normal moment in their lives. I never know what kind of images I am going to get from one shoot to the next and I try to ensure I have no preconceived ideas about the kind of shots I want to get.

What I love more than anything is when suddenly something magical happens. And they always happen entirely unprompted and just through the natural course of the day. It may be a few magical moments or just the one, but they always happen. You’ll be snapping away and then boom - the child does something or says something amazing / hilarious / momentous and you have to be quick! You’ve got to think on your feet constantly, lightening quick reactions with your settings if you are stepping into another room or if you’ve been shooting in a corner of the room where it is darker and then suddenly need to jump up and shoot by the window where its brighter.

It has been a huge learning curve for me, stepping back, not interrupting the flow of their day, and simply being a documentarian of whatever story is being told in front of me.


I would not be able to make the pictures I make without the unwavering trust and openness from the families I photograph. They invite me into their homes, into very real and personal spaces and allow me to capture beautifully intimate moments and I want to thank all the families I have photographed in 2018 for allowing me to document their beautiful lives.

If you are interested in finding out more information about these types of photo sessions, or would like to book a session, click here!

I am Jess Cheetham, an award winning family photographer based in Bath, Somerset. I specialise in documentary style photography that is unposed, natural and real. Every single family is unique and therefore each shoot I do is different and brings new surprises, emotions and memories. I am honoured to be invited into your lives and capture some of your most private and intimate moments. These sessions are beautifully intimate and respectful and aim to capture you as family in the most authentic and connected way.